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Evaluating the Usage and Value of Supplemental Materials in a Dynamics Class

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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

Dynamic Pedagogies for Engineering Dynamics

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William E. Howard East Carolina University

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William E (Ed) Howard is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering at East Carolina University. He was previously a faculty member at Milwaukee School of Engineering. Prior to joining MSOE, he worked as a design and project engineer with Thiokol Corporation, Spaulding Composites Company, and Sta-Rite Industries.

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Jeffry R. Foeller East Carolina University

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Karen A. De Urquidi East Carolina University

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Engineering dynamics is a subject area that many engineering students find among the most difficult encountered in their course of study. At _________, the required course in dynamics is especially important in that students are required to earn a grade of at least a C in order to proceed with some subsequent courses. In order to help students succeed, supplemental materials have been created to complement the traditional class elements of lectures, homework assignments, and readings from the textbook. These materials include Questions of the Day which are emailed to students every weekday morning, class summaries which are emailed the day before each class, and videos illustrating some topics with motion simulation. In addition to describing these supplemental materials, this paper describes an effort to track how often students use them and relate their use to success in the course.

This study was conducted over four sections of the course, with a combined enrollment of 99 students. Each week, students were asked how often they utilized each of the supplemental materials, how often they read the textbook before class, and how many hours they spent that week outside of class. On weeks in which there was a test, students were asked which materials they utilized in preparing for the test. The survey was paper-based and conducted during class, so the response rates were high, with an average of 76 surveys completed each week. Students were not required to complete the surveys or to identify themselves, but most voluntarily wrote their name or student ID number. Among the findings were that utilization rates for the Question of the Day and the class summaries were around 50%, while the about 20% of students read the textbook before class. The viewing rate for the videos was very low – an average of 8% watched a video completely, with an average of 19% watching a portion of a video. While these utilization rates could certainly be improved by making them mandatory, the philosophy of the instructors is to provide resources and allow the students to take responsibility for choosing the ones that work best for them. In the paper, the authors discuss ways in which they encourage the students to do so. In an end-of-semester survey, a majority of students rated all of the resources as “very helpful” or “moderately helpful.”

Of the 99 students in the class, 64 completed at least 11 of the 14 weekly surveys and identified themselves by name or student ID. After the semester, the student data was organized into quartiles by: • Overall course average (calculated from four tests, a final exam, and homework grades), and • Improvement (calculated as the linear best fit of the four test grades).

While no significant differences were seen in utilization of resources among the groups, the average number of hours spent per week was highest for the most-improved quartile. Based on this not-surprising result, the authors conclude that continuing to develop and refine multiple resources is worthwhile, as long as students are aware that the key to improving is to spend more time with whichever of the resources they find most helpful.

Howard, W. E., & Foeller, J. R., & De Urquidi, K. A. (2018, June), Evaluating the Usage and Value of Supplemental Materials in a Dynamics Class Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30449

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