June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.620.1 - 11.620.14
Experiential Learning in a Fluid Flow Class via Take-Home Experiments
This paper describes the development and assessment of a pump flow take-home experiment that was implemented in an introductory junior-level fluid mechanics course in Fall 2005. The take- home experiment, along with appropriate instructions, is assigned as homework. Students borrow the equipment from the department’s equipment room, and perform the experiment either at home or in the student lounge or student shop work area. The experimental apparatus consists of a bucket, tape measure, submersible aquarium pump, tubing, measuring cup, and extension cord. Students connect the tube to the pump outlet, submerge the pump in water, and measure the volume flow rate produced at various outflow elevations. They record and plot volume flow rate as a function of outlet elevation, and compare with the manufacturer’s pump performance curve (head versus volume flow rate). The homework assignment includes an online pre-test and post- test to assess the change in students’ understanding of the principles of pump performance. The results of the assessment support a significant learning gain following the completion of the take- home experiment. These results and analysis of student perception data collected via an online survey embedded in the homework assignment are discussed.
Instructors have reported various ways to introduce physical or numerical hands-on experience into traditional lecture-based courses, either in place of or as supplements to a traditional laboratory experience. Among the papers that are published in archival journals or presented at engineering education conferences, the following alternatives to traditional engineering laboratory instruction are discussed: take-home experiments1, 2, 3 laboratories integrated with lecture4, 5 distance laboratories6, 7 simulated laboratories8, 9, 10
Another portion of the literature that is important to this topic involves the differential experiences that students have in hands-on learning environments, including laboratories, based on their gender11, 12. In many cases, female students are pushed into less active roles, such as analysis of data and writing of reports, in hands-on learning environments. Therefore they fail to get experience that will assist them in developing important skills and improved understanding of the subject matter. It also seems possible that male students who are less confident in their hands-on skills, but are good at analysis and writing, also fail to get full value out of their laboratory experiences; however, evidence to support this hypothesis was not found in the literature. Perhaps an AAUW report13 sums things up the best in recommending that we allow female students “to do the lab.” The take-home experiment discussed here allows all students to conduct the experiment individually or in groups, and at their own pace.
Cimbala, J., & Pauley, L. L., & Zappe, S., & Hsieh, M. (2006, June), Experiential Learning In A Fluid Flow Class Via Take Home Experiments Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--792
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