Asee peer logo

Creating A Visually Rich, Active Learning Environment For Teaching Mechanics Of Materials

Download Paper |


2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Improving Mechanics of Materials Classes

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.341.1 - 7.341.21



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

John Wood

author page

Jason Bartolomei

author page

Dave Winebrener

author page

Don Rhymer

author page

Brian Self

author page

Daniel Jensen

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 2468


John J. Wood*, Dave Winebrener, Jake Bartolomei, Daniel Jensen, Don Rhymer *Department of Mechanical Engineering, Colorado State University/ Department of Engineering Mechanics, U.S. Air Force Academy


For the last 4 years we have been working to develop a suite of tools to enhance our Introduction to Mechanics course here at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA). The course is taught to over 1000 students per year and covers standard Mechanics of Materials content at a basic level. The course is required of all cadets at USAFA, so most of the students who take the course are not engineering majors. The objectives associated with this research program are four-fold: 1) to reach a student population that has a great variety of learning styles, 2) to increase overall motivation in the topic area, 3) to create a more active learning environment and 4) to present problems which are open ended and therefore have no single “right” solution. We endeavored to do this beginning from a sound pedagogical foundation and guided by a formalized, multifaceted assessment program. We are attempting to achieve the 4 objectives through the use of a multimedia tool in development called Vis-MoM (for Visual Mechanics of Materials). This interactive multimedia courseware is designed to span the space of learning styles by providing extensive visualization and interactive content as well as thorough, step-by-step example problems. We have previously shown that these particular features of our courseware correspond well to a full span of learning styles as illuminated by the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Vis-MoM is designed to increase motivation through extensive use of real-world examples and an interactive, thought-provoking learning environment. Finally, we show the open-ended nature of the subject by inclusion of open-ended design problems for each topic. Three separate assessment techniques have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of the interactive multimedia courseware. Our assessment indicates the students’ perception of the learning tool is quite positive. However, there are some notable exceptions to this, which are detailed in the paper. In addition, our assessment shows that the visual modules did enhance understanding when compared to a traditional lecture format. This paper should provide others who are attempting to enhance mechanics courses with important information relevant to their development, implementation, and assessment processes.

1. Introduction

The Fundamentals of Mechanics course at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) was used as a testing ground for assessing the effectiveness of an interactive multimedia courseware tool called Vis-MoM (for Visual Mechanics of Materials). The course combines two basic topics in engineering mechanics (statics and strength of materials) at an introductory level and is mandatory for all students at USAFA regardless of major. Typically, the concepts of

“Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

Main Menu

Wood, J., & Bartolomei, J., & Winebrener, D., & Rhymer, D., & Self, B., & Jensen, D. (2002, June), Creating A Visually Rich, Active Learning Environment For Teaching Mechanics Of Materials Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10281

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2002 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015