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Design, Implementation, And Assessment Of An Hpl Inspired Undergraduate Course In Biomechanics

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Teaching Strategies in BME

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.380.1 - 8.380.9



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Paper Authors

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Marcus Pandy

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Anthony Petrosino

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Ronald Barr

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

Session 2109

Design, Implementation, and Assessment of an HPL-inspired Undergraduate Course on Biomechanics

Marcus G. Pandy, Anthony J. Petrosino, Ron E. Barr, Laura Tennant, Ajay Seth

Department of Biomedical Engineering/Department of Curriculum & Instruction University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712


New developments in learning theory suggest that instructors can improve student understanding by changing their teaching practices. Innovations in instructional design such as problem-based, case-based, and project-based learning have been designed to combat students’ inability to apply learning to relevant situations. Instead of assigning fact-based readings or providing lectures, students begin their inquiry with challenging problems and learn relevant information as the need arises. Much of the research and educational activities on-going in the VaNTH ERC (Vanderbilt-Northwestern-Texas-Harvard-MIT Engineering Research Center) is based on this challenge-based approach, which we refer to here as the How People Learn (HPL) model. There are currently four major domains under development in VaNTH, biomechanics being one of these.

An overall goal of the VaNTH ERC is to assemble new materials to recommend for undergraduate curricula in biomedical engineering. Thus, a major focus of our current activities in the biomechanics domain is the design, implementation, and assessment of a new undergraduate course on biomechanics of human movement. This new course, which is currently offered as an elective in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, is based entirely on the HPL model and draws on all the latest learning materials developed within the biomechanics domain. The course is centered on three challenge-based modules, each targeted to freshman- and sophomore-level engineering students. The overall goals of the course are to (a) teach students about the relationships between musculoskeletal structure and function in the context of human movement; (b) provide real-life examples of biomechanical situations which are familiar, relevant, interesting, and engaging; and (c) teach students to think abstractly about complex problems which lie at the intersection of engineering, medicine, and biology. To achieve these goals, we developed five criteria on which to base our instruction: first, students should be encouraged to develop their own thoughts and ideas about complex problems; second, students should be given a compass for their own learning by making the learning outcomes explicit at the very beginning of the course; third, students should be encouraged to work in groups so that they may explore the different facets of a problem together; fourth, students should be given opportunities to test their own hypotheses using hands-on experiments and interactive computer simulations; and fifth, we, as instructors, should provide a

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Pandy, M., & Petrosino, A., & Barr, R. (2003, June), Design, Implementation, And Assessment Of An Hpl Inspired Undergraduate Course In Biomechanics Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11736

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