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Demo or Hands-on? A Crossover Study on the Most Effective Implementation Strategy for Inquir--Based Learning Activities

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Learning Environments for Statics, Dynamics, and Mechanics of Materials

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Brian P. Self California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Brian Self obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Utah. He worked in the Air Force Research Laboratories before teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy for seven years. Brian has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo since 2006. During the 2011-2012 academic year he participated in a professor exchange, teaching at the Munich University of Applied Sciences. He is a co-author on the Beer and Johnston dynamics textbook. His engineering education interests include collaborating on the Dynamics Concept Inventory, developing model-eliciting activities in mechanical engineering courses, inquiry-based learning in mechanics, and design projects to help promote adapted physical activities. Other professional interests include aviation physiology and biomechanics.

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James M. Widmann California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Jim Widmann is a professor of mechanical engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He received his Ph.D. in 1994 from Stanford University and has served as a Fulbright Scholar at Kathmandu University it Nepal. At Cal Poly, he coordinates the departments industry sponsored senior project class and teaches mechanics and design courses. He also conducts research in the areas of creative design, machine design, fluid power control, and engineering education.

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During the past five years, our team has developed a number of hands-on inquiry-based learning activities (IBLAs). These activities follow a predict-observe-explain cycle, where students are first presented a physical scenario that they must individually evaluate. For example, in the Cylinder IBLA, students are asked to individually predict what will reach the bottom of a ramp more quickly, a pipe or a solid cylinder. Students then discuss the scenario in teams, and subsequently observe the actual “race”. After the observation, the student teams try to explain the results using a guiding worksheet. The first scenario is then discussed with the instructor, and additional variations of the scenario are presented.

As we developed the activities, we allowed each student team to handle the different artifacts and perform the “experiments”. Our current research investigates the differences between having the students perform the hands-on experiments themselves and having the instructor perform a demonstration in front of the room. Two instructors, A and B, teaching from the same syllabus, same course notes, and with a very similar active teaching approach, used both the Pulley IBLA and the Rolling Cylinder IBLA in their class sections. Instructor A did the Pulley IBLA using a hands-on student approach, while Instructor B did the IBLA as a professor-led demonstration. For the Cylinder IBLA, they switched; Instructor A did the demo while Instructor B did the hands-on. We compared results from targeted questions on the Dynamics Concept Inventory (DCI) between the two groups, and also compared these results with other instructors who do not use the IBLAs and teach in more traditional lecture-based approach.

For the Pulley IBLA, DCI scores were: Hands-On [95.4%], Demo [93.9%], Control [70.8%]; for the Cylinder IBLA, the results were Hands-On [84.8%], Demo [86.2%], Control [61.2%]. It is noted that there was no difference between the Hands-On and Demo groups, but that both significantly outperformed the control group.

Self, B. P., & Widmann, J. M. (2017, June), Demo or Hands-on? A Crossover Study on the Most Effective Implementation Strategy for Inquir--Based Learning Activities Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28101

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