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Enhancing Mechanics Education through Shared Assessment Design

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Measuring Learning in Statics & Dynamics

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Roger G. Hadgraft University of Technology Sydney Orcid 16x16

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Roger Hadgraft
BE(Hons), MEngSc, DipCompSc, PhD, FIEAust
is Professor of Engineering and IT Professional Practice in the Faculty of Engineering and IT at the University of Technology Sydney. He is a civil engineer with 25 years involvement in leading change in engineering education, with a particular focus on problem/project-based learning (PBL), at RMIT, Monash, Melbourne and Central Queensland Universities. Roger is an ALTC (Australian Learning and Teaching Council) Discipline Scholar in Engineering and ICT, having co-developed the draft Australian national academic standards for the discipline. He is a passionate advocate of national and international cooperation in engineering education, particularly the sharing of best-practice learning materials.

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David Lowe The University of Sydney

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Professor David Lowe is Associate Dean (Education) and Professor of Software Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies at The University of Sydney. He has active research interests in real-time control in the web environment and remote laboratories. He has published widely including over 150 papers and three books (most recently Web Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach, McGraw-Hill, co-authored with Roger Pressman). He is a past-President of the Global Online Laboratory Consortium, and is the convenor of the Australian Engineering Associate Deans (L&T) network.

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Justine Lawson

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There is considerable commonality between engineering undergraduate programs in terms of content, pedagogies, course structures and assessment practices, particularly in terms of engineering fundamentals such as mechanics. Despite this, and the availability of an array of online resources, there seems to be limited commitment to sharing learning resources among teaching academics and between institutions. Further, there seems to be a specific resistance to sharing those materials that support the teaching and learning of technical content. Collaborations seen in research networks seem not to have equivalent presence in teaching and learning, despite a literature that points to the benefits of sharing curriculum resources. A few projects funded by the Federal Office for Learning and Teaching in Australia have made freely available resources as deliverables (A proactive approach to addressing student learning diversity in engineering mechanics; Promoting student engagement and continual improvement: Integrating professional quality management practice into engineering curricula; Remotely accessible laboratories: Enhancing learning outcomes). There has been varied uptake of these, however, and the long-term maintenance of online resources is problematic. There is also a literature that identifies sustainability challenges with open educational resources including funding and intellectual property rights. It could be argued that failure to provide resources and, concomitantly the uptake by teaching academics of such resources, impedes student access to these resources and therefore impacts their learning. It also contributes to inefficiencies brought about by work duplication. The reasons for limited uptake of resources are both institutional and individual. However, there are nuances to what is meant by a resource, how resources are modified by academics and where in a program they might be used. For the purposes of this project, we are looking at resources designed to assist in the learning and teaching of engineering fundamentals. Our seed project mapped the local known in terms of the national and international literature and Australian learning and teaching projects on resource sharing initiatives, with emphasis on mechanics. A collection of repositories and online resources has been compiled. Several textbook publishers were also contacted to determine the availability of resources and/or assessment items. A short survey of participating universities enabled an evaluation of some resources and an insight into how and why academics develop teaching resources. This preliminary survey was followed up by a workshop in Sydney in September 2015 of more than 20 universities to define the core knowledge of Statics as a first step to begin to build an assessment collaboration between these universities. The intent is to build and test a reliable set of assessment questions that can be used by any academic teaching Statics, in this case. Apart from ensuring quality assessment tasks, this bank will provide a benchmarking tool for all universities to use. It will enable their students to be compared with students at other universities, which is very useful in terms of the 5-year accreditation cycle. As well as an evaluation of assessment items, there was discussion of how best to teach core concepts such as equilibrium, free-body diagrams, bending moments, etc, with an emphasis on student engagement. Engineering disasters were a popular approach. These ideas will be further developed as the collaboration grows. The next step is an application for a large national project to build this collaboration between the universities teaching engineering in Australia, to build the first of these assessment banks. Further topics, beyond Statics, will then follow, e.g. Dynamics, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Circuit Analysis.

Hadgraft, R. G., & Lowe, D., & Lawson, J. (2016, June), Enhancing Mechanics Education through Shared Assessment Design Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26700

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