June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Engineering sciences, commonly found in the second year of engineering programs, are the technical courses that are considered some of the most important background for an engineering student. Yet, these courses have become impenetrable from changes in content and pedagogy and are abstracted from any human or societal context. In this work-in-progress paper, we describe our efforts in bringing human context to Statics at two teaching-focused institutions. We purposefully integrate context into the course by scaffolding students to see Statics as all around them and relevant to their own lives. Our efforts can be divided into four main categories, in increasing levels of student difficulty: concepts in context, problem-solving in context, decision-making in context, and make-your-own context. In the first level, new course material is introduced by relating it to phenomena experienced in daily life to help students grasp challenging concepts. Students are shown ways in which Statics surround them in their daily lives through real-life, everyday examples used to explain technical concepts in class (e.g., learning to paddleboard by analyzing moments). In the second level, students practice Statics problem-solving in context by examining a real-world scenario through a Statics analysis. These context problems include reflection questions that ask students to consider the meaning and impacts of their numerical solution. In addition to these levels of contextualization that are easier to implement, we also describe in this paper how we have created entire projects around decision-making in context, and how we have led students to draw their own connections between Statics concepts and how they might use them in their own lives. Our goal is to demonstrate Statics concepts as more than “how things are engineered” (i.e., training future engineers to understand Statics in engineered objects) by helping students appreciate and see the relevance of Statics in every aspect of their lives. This paper presents our process and select examples for other instructors to use and build on. Lastly, we offer our reflections on the process and our tips on how to conceptualize context around Statics to help interested instructors generate their own ideas.
Chen, D. A., & Wodin-Schwartz, S. (2019, June), Contextualizing Statics: Our Process and Examples Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32546
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