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Evaluation of Impact of Web-based Activities on Mechanics Achievement and Self-Efficacy

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

New Teaching Methods in Mechanics

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.548.1 - 24.548.19



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Paper Authors


Sarah L. Billington Stanford University

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Sarah Billington is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. Her research group focuses on sustainable, durable construction materials and their application to structures and construction. She teaches an undergraduate class on introductory solid mechanics as well as graduate courses in structural concrete behavior and design. Most recently she has initiated a engineering education research project on the impact of online activities on mechanics self-efficacy and achievement.

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Sheri D. Sheppard Stanford University

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Sheri D. Sheppard, Ph.D., P.E., is professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design and education related classes at Stanford University, she conducts research on engineering education and work-practices, and applied finite element analysis. From 1999-2008 she served as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, leading the Foundation’s engineering study (as reported in Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field). In addition, in 2003 Dr. Sheppard was named co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to form the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE), along with faculty at the University of Washington, Colorado School of Mines, and Howard University. More recently (2011) she was named as co-PI of a national NSF innovation center (Epicenter), and leads an NSF program at Stanford on summer research experiences for high school teachers. Her industry experiences includes engineering positions at Detroit's "Big Three:" Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Chrysler Corporation.

At Stanford she has served a chair of the faculty senate, and is currently the Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

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Robert C Calfee Graduate School of Education, Stanford University

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Robert Calfee is a cognitive psychologist with research interests in the effect of schooling on the intellectual potential of individuals and groups. His interests have evolved over the past three decades from a focus on assessment of beginning literacy skills to a concern with the broader reach of the school as a literate environment. His theoretical efforts are directed toward the nature of human thought processes, and the influence of language and literacy in the development of problem-solving and communication.

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Peggy C. Boylan-Ashraf Stanford University

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Dr. Peggy C. Boylan-Ashraf is a postdoctoral research scholar in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of solid mechanics and engineering education, particularly in the areas of a new paradigm in teaching introductory, fundamental engineering mechanics classes (statics, mechanics of materials, and dynamics).

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Evaluation of Impact of Web-based Activities on Mechanics Achievement and Self-EfficacyThis paper presents initial results of a research project on the impact of web-based activities on mechanicsachievement and self-efficacy. This pilot research is addressing the question of "What sticks and why?"in an introductory mechanics course that incorporates traditional lectures with interactive hands-onlearning, as well as web-based instruction and homework. The web-based activities vary in level ofinteraction with the student. High interaction activities feature active learning with instant feedback; lowinteraction activities feature readings and lectures with demonstrations. Exercises focused on creating andusing free body diagrams have been developed, and initial data on self-efficacy has been obtained.Additional studies will be conducted throughout the academic year.The introductory mechanics course for which these web-based exercises are being created is taught to 80-100 students per term and involves hands-on laboratory exercises weekly within the class meeting time.The developed web-based exercises are for a one-week segment on free body diagrams and include videoclips with opportunities for students to apply concepts both through multiple choice questions andinteractive exercises. Class time during this week is devoted to additional hands-on exercises with somesupplemental lecture content. Pilot data have been collected and results will be reported on both thequantitative and qualitative information. Quantitative data include measures of performance on conceptinventory questions and exams, as well as self-efficacy data. Qualitative information includes individualhomework and in-class work as well as in-class pair work. In addition to presenting initial findings fromour research, we will discuss how embedding of assessment into a course is benefitting both the studentsand the instructors.  

Billington, S. L., & Sheppard, S. D., & Calfee, R. C., & Boylan-Ashraf, P. C. (2014, June), Evaluation of Impact of Web-based Activities on Mechanics Achievement and Self-Efficacy Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20439

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