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Engaging Engineering Students in Lectures Using Anecdotes, Activities, and Games

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Teaching Methods for Engineering Mechanics Courses

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Paper Authors


Rania Al-Hammoud P.Eng. University of Waterloo

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Dr. Al-Hammoud is a Faculty lecturer (Graduate Attributes) in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Al-Hammoud has a passion for teaching where she continuously seeks new technologies to involve students in their learning process. She is actively involved in the Ideas Clinic, a major experiential learning initiative at the University of Waterloo. She is also responsible for developing a process and assessing graduate attributes at the department to target areas for improvement in the curriculum. This resulted in several publications in this educational research areas.
Dr. Al-Hammoud won the "Ameet and Meena Chakma award for exceptional teaching by a student” in 2014 and the "Engineering Society Teaching Award" in 2016 from University of Waterloo. Her students regard her as an innovative teacher who continuously introduces new ideas to the classroom that increases their engagement.

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Kamyar Ghavam University of Waterloo

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Lecturer at MME Department

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Students being engaged in lectures plays a big role in their learning process. Students come to lectures sometimes tired, bored, or just have lots of things going on in their mind, either personal, or course/program related, etc. As such it is important to set their mind clear to be ready to digest the new material they are going to learn in the course. It is also important to excite them enough to come to early morning classes and keep their attention to stay in the late afternoon classes while staying focused. This paper discusses the use of different methods to increase engagement, attention and attendance in class and the students’ reflection on these methods. Some of these engagement pieces are directly course related and some are just general engagement information. Two instructors used these methods in second and third year engineering courses. The engagement pieces included: mini-games at the beginning of the lecture, unrelated anecdotes in the middle of the lecture, and semi-related special information pieces. All of these are being part of mechanics courses taught in civil, mechanical and mechatronics engineering programs. Examples of these mini-games include: centroid-balance games, where student participate in groups reinforcing their group dynamics, or “guess the unit games” where students participate individually using Kahoot! website. The instructors also used anecdotes such as the etymology of Greek letters and the effect of climate change. In the other attempts, instructors showed short videos of special mechanisms/machines to emphasize a broader application of the topic that they are learning. The students were enthusiastic about these engagement pieces (EP) and they mentioned the positive effect it had on their learning. They were looking forward for these EPs, and were asking that they should be used in other courses as well. The use of these EPs also improved instructors’ course evaluations.

Al-Hammoud, R., & Ghavam, K. (2018, June), Engaging Engineering Students in Lectures Using Anecdotes, Activities, and Games Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30396

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