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Distance Tutoring In Engineering Economics: Equivalence Modeling

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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

Engineering Economy Frontiers

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.446.1 - 8.446.9



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Paper Authors

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John Ristroph

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

Session 1639

Distance Tutoring in Engineering Economics: Equivalence Modeling John H. Ristroph, Ph.D., P.E. University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Abstract This paper focuses on the creative elements of designing a system suitable for tutoring distance students in equivalence modeling. The design of Equivalence Tutor seeks to replicate many of the essential elements of a professor's office hours that frequently are unavailable to distance learning students. Tutor uses Microsoft's Excel as a platform, fully drawing upon its graphical, data man- agement, and mathematical resources. Spreadsheets, per se, are inadequate for tutoring purposes, so Excel's capabilities are extended by using its internal programming language, Visual Basic for Applications. Introduction Engineering economics is a unique course that requires students to develop mathematical skills in equivalence modeling, to apply concepts and solve problems using economic criteria, and to master rule and memory oriented topics such as taxes. Students must rely on different learning skills, and this makes teaching the course a fascinating challenge. One common thread to the dif- ferent components of the course is that it does not require a physical laboratory, and this makes it a candidate for web based teaching.

Computer applications in engineering economics have a long history. Numerous texts have provided software supplements for years, and now posting lecture notes on web sites is not unusual. Terpenny, Sullivan, et al have taken this concept one step further. They reviewed web related learning issues and a developed a virtual classroom [1] for engineering economics that even allows for open ended projects with industrial interaction [2]. Their web site [3] allows stu- dents to interactively select among a variety of topics and even take multiple choice quizzes. Prompts congratulate correct answers and provide general guidance for wrong answers.

The current project restricts its focus to equivalence modeling to allow interaction at an equation level much as would occur in a professor's office. The following sections discuss basic design considerations and then examine subsystems and their features in more detail. Basic Design Considerations At one end of the design spectrum is a system that swiftly and accurately performs any calcula- tion requested by the student, but does not offer any guidance at all. This allows a student to ex- plore and learn by doing, but does such a system really offer tutoring or is it merely an advanced calculator? At the other end of the spectrum is a system that offers students a series of structured choices and prompts, refusing to proceed until the desired answer is given. Such a system can aid the learning of mechanics, but to what extent does it encourage independent thinking?

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

Ristroph, J. (2003, June), Distance Tutoring In Engineering Economics: Equivalence Modeling Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12417

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