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Enhancing Students' Understanding Of Key Engineering Concepts Through The Use Of Civil Engineering Toys In The Classroom

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

CE Rap Session and Toys in the Classroom

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.512.1 - 7.512.11



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Paper Authors

author page

Tonya Emerson

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

Main Menu Session 1815

Enhancing Student’s Understanding of Key Engineering Concepts Through the Use of Civil Engineering Toys in the Classroom.

Assistant Professor Tonya Emerson

Civil Engineering, California State University, Chico, CA 95929-0930

I. Abstract

Assisting students in developing a solid understanding of the many conceptual ideas presented in our undergraduate engineering courses is a significant task. In one key course, Mechanics of Materials, the abstract and sometimes intangible ideas of stress and strain, and what causes them, continue to be a great source of confusion for our engineering students. To effectively teach these conceptual ideas, we need to instruct the students with a variety of teaching styles and tools. One set of tools that enhance theoretical models is visual demonstrations. Providing visual demonstrations along with the theoretical models creates an environment for improved student understanding. The present paper presents a collection of models, props and toys that are currently being utilized in a Mechanics of Materials class to demonstrate the main principles of the course. Topics supported by the visual aids and discussed herein include, but are not limited to: bending, torsion, shear center, shear flow, shear developed from transverse loading, normal stress, compression and tension, Saint-Venant’s Principle, development of combined stresses, the effects of geometric properties such as the 2nd Moment of Area, I, thin-walled pressure vessels and buckling.

II. Introduction

Educational research repeatedly shows a variety of learning styles exist among our university students. A number of learning style models have been developed to categorize student’s preferred methods of learning including: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator1, the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument 2, the Productivity Environmental Preference Survey 3, and the Felder- Silverman Learning Style Inventory4. However, regardless of which model is used to identify engineering student’s learning styles, a constant trait emerges; students learn differently. Kramer-Koehler, et. al. of Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, New York published the results of preferred learning style assessments of 144 undergraduates entering this science and engineering university in the fall of 1993 and an additional 196 students entering in 1994. 5 Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator method, they found considerable variation among the students. Of the 16 possible learning style types specified by Myers-Briggs, no type gained more than 17% of sample population, although there was a tendency toward Thinker and Sensor types vs. Feeler and Intuitive styles. This research further shows a difference in gender learning styles, with a significantly larger number of Thinkers and Extroverts among the females than among the males. Of additional interest, less than 44% of the 340 students tested demonstrated preferred learning styles generally associated with an engineering or research scientist profile.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education Main Menu

Emerson, T. (2002, June), Enhancing Students' Understanding Of Key Engineering Concepts Through The Use Of Civil Engineering Toys In The Classroom Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10042

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