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Divide and conquer: an example from Fluid Mechanics class

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2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting


Tempe, Arizona

Publication Date

April 20, 2017

Start Date

April 20, 2017

End Date

April 22, 2017

Conference Session

Technical Session 3a

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Pacific Southwest Section

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Rebeka Sultana California State University, Long Beach Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Sultana has been working as an Assistant Professor at the department of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Management (CECEM) at California State University after receiving her PhD in 2011 from University of California, Irvine. Her area of expertise is in the area of Water Resources engineering. At CSULB, she teaches classes on Fluid Mechanics, Water Resources Engineering, Engineering Hydraulics, and Urban Surface Water Management. She actively engages undergraduate students and graduate students in her research. Her passion for research infuses her teaching and she always looks for ways to improve students’ learning experience. Finally, she believes that good teaching style is a product of years of trial and error.

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Fluid Mechanics is a required course for Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Engineering students at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). For the students, this course is the first introduction to the concept and principal of Fluid Mechanics. The student learning objective is the ability to apply fundamental fluid flow analysis techniques to various fluid systems. The students’ performance is assessed based on homework, quizzes, midterms, and a final exam. In the first Midterm, students’ performance has been below expectation where students were tested with questions on hydrostatics. However, later in the semester, students start to have better understanding of the course materials and their performances improve. But, because of their poor performance in the first Midterm, students’ overall grades suffer. To increase better understanding of the first Midterm’s course materials, students require additional practice time or reduction of course materials. In Spring 2016, the number of Midterms were increased from two to three with the objective to reduce the course load per exam and allow more practice time on the concepts. The result was compared to the class of Spring 2015 which shows by splitting the course materials into three (i.e. two midterms to three midterms), students’ performance improved. The percentage of students receiving between 70% and 80% increased by 10% and the percentage of students receiving 70% or less decreased by 10%. Although the percentage of students receiving 80% or higher was nearly unchanged, the results are encouraging. Similar to the trend in Midterm exams, students’ performance also improved in the course with increasing percentage of students receiving 70% or higher and reducing percentage of students receiving less than 60%. Thus, dividing the course material can improve class performance.

Sultana, R. (2017, April), Divide and conquer: an example from Fluid Mechanics class Paper presented at 2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, Tempe, Arizona.

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