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Development And Assessment Of Tutorials For Introductory Engineering Dynamics

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Improving Statics and Dynamics Classes

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.423.1 - 9.423.8

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Paper Authors

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Per G. Reinhall

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Paula R.L. Heron

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Lesley Low

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Brian C. Fabien

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

Session Number 3668

Development and Assessment of Tutorials for Introductory Engineering Dynamics Lesley Ann Low*, Paula R.L. Heron, Brian C. Fabien, Per G. Reinhall Department of Physics, University of Washington/Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington/*currently at Information Systems Laboratories, Inc.

Introductory engineering dynamics is an important course for (at least) three reasons. First, it is essential to have a strong grasp of the concepts covered in the course when pursuing a degree in engineering. Second, it is a required course for most engineering departments and is the first engineering course that covers both difficult and abstract concepts. Third, for many capable students this course can become a roadblock to a career in engineering. This is especially true for the student who has not yet decided if he or she wants to pursue engineering when entering college. For this student the course is often the catalyst for choosing a major that seems less intimidating than engineering. Success in this course is necessary for choosing to, and being able to, enter a department as well as for success in subsequent courses.

Engineering tutorials are being developed at the University of Washington (UW) to respond to the need for increased conceptual understanding and development of problem solving skills early in the engineering student’s academic career. Currently, traditional teaching methods are employed in introductory engineering dynamics at UW. The course currently involves three lectures and one recitation section per week during which concepts and examples of their applications are usually presented to the students in a non- interactive environment. Any interaction, if at all, is in the form of students asking questions of the instructor, mostly for clarification. The recitation section, taught by a TA, generally consists of two parts: 1) mini-lecture and 2) question/answer on homework. The mini-lectures cover material that students found difficult on their homework or exams. There are significant differences in student experiences during the recitation sections depending on the teaching assistants (TAs) and their individual teaching styles. There is very little training made available to the TAs and little evaluation of their teaching skills is required.

Research results indicate that very few students develop a conceptual understanding from listening passively to lectures, reading textbooks and working the end of chapter problems1. However, providing future engineers with the opportunity to develop conceptual knowledge, reasoning skills and problem solving skills places an increased burden on engineering faculty. It requires them to use instructional methods that were not part of their experiences in the classrooms where they were educated and in which they have typically had no training. There is, therefore, a need for instructional materials that can be adopted with ease and confidence.

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Reinhall, P. G., & Heron, P. R., & Low, L., & Fabien, B. C. (2004, June), Development And Assessment Of Tutorials For Introductory Engineering Dynamics Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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