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Exploring a New Approach to the Assessment of Web-based Materials for Engineering Statics Courses

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Statics Online

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.724.1 - 26.724.10



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Paper Authors


Paul S. Steif Carnegie Mellon University

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Paul S. Steif is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He received a Sc.B. in engineering from Brown University (1979) and M.S. (1980) and Ph.D. (1982) degrees from Harvard University in applied mechanics. He has been active as a teacher and researcher in the field of engineering education and mechanics. His research has focused on student learning of mechanics concepts and developing new course materials and classroom approaches. Drawing upon methods of cognitive and learning sciences, he has led the development and psychometric validation of the Statics Concept Inventory – a test of statics conceptual knowledge. He is the co-author of Open Learning Initiative (OLI) Engineering Statics, and he is the author of a textbook Mechanics of Materials, published by Pearson.

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Anna Dollár Miami University

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Anna Dollár is a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Miami University in Oxford, OH, and previously was on the faculty of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago. She received her Ph. D. in applied mechanics from Krakow University of Technology in Poland.
Her achievements in engineering education have been recognized by many awards including University Excellence in Teaching Award (IIT), E. Phillips Knox University Teaching Award (Miami University, 2006), and American Society for Engineering Education North Central Section Outstanding Teacher Award (2011). Her research focuses on mechanics of solids and engineering education.

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CHALLENGES FACING DEVELOPMENT, ADOPTION, AND ASSESSMENT OF WEB- BASED MATERIALS FOR ENGINEERING COURSESIn this paper we report on the lessons learned in the course of the nearly ten-year effortdeveloping the Open Learning Initiative Engineering Statics course, using it inclassrooms and conducting studies of its effectiveness.The OLI Statics course covers most topics of 2D statics, and consists of 20 modules, akinto chapters, with each module based on a set of carefully articulated learning objectives.The modules contain expository text, diagrams, and simulations, with, most significantly,a large number of interactive exercises. The exercises offer hints and feedback, therebyproviding extensive formative assessment to students. These materials were originallyconceived of and developed with an independent learner in mind. But these web-basedlearning materials have also been blended into an instructor-led, lecture-based staticscourses using either a “flipped classroom” format or a traditional format. Studentresponses on interactive exercises are recorded, which enables the degree to which theyhave mastered distinct concepts and skills to be tracked. This information on mastery,both for the class as a whole and for individual students, is provided to the instructor inthe form of a Learning Dashboard. This allows the instructor to see at a glance whichconcepts need reinforcement.In this paper, we share the challenges that face the enterprise of providing a potentiallyself-contained course online and embedding the course materials in the context ofinstructor-led courses. These challenges include meshing topic sequences, the ability forinstructors to view available exercises and what takes place within them, and how tobalance the provision of exercises that students can choose based on their learningtrajectory with the instructor seeking to give credit for some distinct portion of work.Learners also face challenges in trying to capitalize on such materials. Students typicallymay be inexperienced in assimilating the textual material that places exercises in a largercontext, while not being overwhelmed by reading. Students typically lack experience inregulating themselves based on feedback, as they are accustomed to a fixed assignment.Yet, it is challenging at the same time to give adequate feedback to students beyond thatwithin each exercise, information that would provide them a basis for self-regulation.There are also higher-level challenges related to signaling to potential instructors how touse such material and the benefits and costs of using them. In particular, describing thebenefits involves assessing how effective such materials are in promoting learning. Overthe course of developing and using these materials, multiple methods have beenemployed in an effort to gain insight into the relationship of usage to learning. We showand discuss the results with emphasis on one of the methods not previously published, inwhich successive attempts to exercise particular skills are tracked, with the goal ofdetermining whether mastery has been achieved.Keywords: web-based courseware, flipped classroom, interactive learning, assessment,Statics    

Steif, P. S., & Dollár, A. (2015, June), Exploring a New Approach to the Assessment of Web-based Materials for Engineering Statics Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24061

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015