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e-Learning Modules for Improving Lifelong Learning Ability

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.563.1 - 26.563.9



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Paper Authors


Michele Miller Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Michele Miller is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Technological University. She teaches classes on manufacturing and does research in engineering education with particular interest in hands-on ability, lifelong learning, and project-based learning.

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Sheryl A. Sorby Ohio State University

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Dr. Sheryl Sorby is currently a Professor of STEM Education at The Ohio State University and was recently a Fulbright Scholar at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Dublin, Ireland. She is a professor emerita of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University and the P.I. or co-P.I. on more than $9M in grant funding, most for educational projects. She is the former Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech and she served at the National Science Foundataion as a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education from January 2007 through August 2009. Prior to her appointment as Associate Dean, Dr. Sorby served as chair of the Engineering Fundamentals Department at Michigan Tech. She received a B.S. in Civil Engineering, an M.S. in Engineering Mechanics, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, all from Michigan Tech. Dr. Sorby has a well-established research program in spatial visualization and is actively involved in the development of various educational programs.

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James P. De Clerck Michigan Technological University

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e-Learning Modules for Improving Lifelong Learning AbilityEngineering graduates of today must be prepared for a lifetime of learning and adaptation. Thus,one of the goals of engineering education is to create independent, lifelong learners. This projectis developing e-learning modules in support of that goal. The modules are designed to teachundergraduate engineering students about metacognition and motivation as well as strategies toimprove learning. Both modules begin with an instrument (learning style inventory ormotivation questionnaire), then a tutorial that gives students a first hand experience of theinfluence of learning style or motivation, then questions of understanding, then a tutorial aboutlearning style or motivation strategies, and finishing with reflection questions and an evaluationof the module. The learning style module creates the “first hand experience” by asking studentsto learn material that is presented in different learning styles. The motivation modulemanipulates task value and control beliefs in its presentation of new material to learn.To assess lifelong learning ability, students also take the Self-Directed Learning ReadinessSurvey (SDLRS). Students are randomly assigned to take the SDLRS either before or after themodules. The pre to post change in score is then analyzed to determine whether the modules arehaving an effect. The data analysis can be taken one step further as the SDLRS can identifyscores for four factors: viewing learning as a tool for life, self-confidence, responsibility forlearning, and curiosity.The modules have been implemented in two mechanical engineering classes: a sophomore levelmanufacturing class and a junior level design processes class. Also, seniors in the capstonedesign class have taken the SDLRS. After six semesters of data collection, many students havetaken the modules more than once. Thus, we are able to look at a relationship between numberof exposures and SDLRS score. SDLRS score increases with age and with number of exposureswith the latter effect being stronger. Compared to second year students, fourth year studentsmostly differ in their level of self-confidence. All four factors increase with number ofexposures with responsibility increasing the most. In comparing the male and female students,the female students scored higher on the SDLRS at a statistically significant level. The factorthat accounted for that difference was responsibility for learning.Based on student evaluations of the modules, we recently made significant modifications to bothmodules. For example, students reported they were already familiar with their preferred learningstyle based on the categories of visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic. In response, we replacedthe Barsch learning style inventory with the Felder-Silverman one to expose students toadditional less familiar aspects of learning styles. Also, in the first version, students found thetutorial materials on topics such as osmosis, mitosis, and Punnett squares to be boring. Thesecond version includes topics that students will find more relevant to their lives, such as foodand nutrition. This paper will describe the evolution of the module content and present resultsfrom the data analysis.

Miller, M., & Sorby, S. A., & De Clerck, J. P. (2015, June), e-Learning Modules for Improving Lifelong Learning Ability Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23901

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