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Connecting Student Experiences with Concepts and Principles of Fluid Mechanics

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Civil Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.373.1 - 22.373.16



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Paper Authors


Sandra Shaw Courter University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Sandra Shaw Courter is PI for the “Aligning Educational Experiences with Ways of Knowing Engineering (AWAKEN): How People Learn” project. She is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Engineering Professional Development and Wendt Commons: Teaching and Learning Services. Her area of research is engineering education including assessment of student learning. She taught technical communication courses to undergraduate engineering students and currently consults with faculty and teaching assistants. She earned her Ph.D. in educational administration at UW, Madison.

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Lauren Seabury University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Lauren Seabury is a graduate student in Water Resources (Civil and Environmental Engineering) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Benjamin Lee

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Gregory Alan Payne


John A. Hoopes University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering Department

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Connecting Student Experiences with Concepts and Principles of Fluid MechanicsThis paper describes an effective approach to a traditional fluid mechanics course and aninnovative assignment that builds on students’ work experiences, observations of the natural andconstructed environment, and current events. The instructor sought the advice of a teaching andlearning consultant as well as a technology consultant. The course includes two lectures eachweek, one two-hour lab each week, and three exams. Initial conversations included the fact thatfaculty infrequently incorporate students’ work experiences (internships and coop programs) andobservations. Recognizing the importance of authentic learning experiences as well as effectiveteaching practices, the team agreed to design a new assignment that became known as theCEE310 App, short for “application” and a spin on the many apps that are available for smartphones.In CEE310 App: Real-world Application of Fluid Mechanics Concept, students work in pairs todemonstrate their understanding of a fluid mechanics concept introduced in class. Thisassignment has four parts: 1) identify and research example that relates it to a fluid mechanicsconcept, 2) design and deliver presentation, 3) review feedback and revise slides, and 4) writeand post reflection with slides. Each week, the teaching assistants select one of the presentationsfrom the three labs for the large lecture. The teaching assistants use the peer assessments as wellas their own evaluations to select the most accurate and professional presentation. Thisassignment enables students to • Demonstrate their understanding of a specific fluid mechanics concept, • Apply a specific fluid mechanics concept to a real-world situation, • Communicate their application in a clear, concise manner to their peers, • Design visuals to accurately demonstrate a concept, • Provide and accept constructive criticism, and • Revise a presentation for accuracy and completeness.While the CEE310 App is the innovative component, the overall course structure is anchored instrategies to provide a positive learning environment. Frequent interaction among instructorsand students includes several assessments in addition to those connected to the app assignment.There are early semester – before the first exam – peer, instructor and TA assessments, and anend of semester assessment in addition to the required department evaluation. The paper willinclude benefits to instructors and students as well as a comparison of student grades plus thedepartment evaluation results before and after the re-design.The app assignment integrates core principles of effective teaching and learning with researchabout developing the skills, values, and ways of thinking of professional engineers – theirepistemic frame. From research with practicing engineers, Courter et al (2009) have confirmedthe importance of being explicit in helping students develop attributes of an effective engineerincluding communication, work ethic, and teamwork. Cabrera and LaNasa (2005) identifiedeffective teaching practices including learning in context, group-based learning, increased timeon task, increased frequency of feedback, and positive classroom climate. While the assignmentis specific to a fluid mechanics course, it is adaptable to any course within any profession.

Courter, S. S., & Seabury, L., & Lee, B., & Payne, G. A., & Hoopes, J. A. (2011, June), Connecting Student Experiences with Concepts and Principles of Fluid Mechanics Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17654

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