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Facilitating Student Learning In Engineering Economy Classes Through Context: Making Horses Thirsty While You Lead Them To Water"

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.260.1 - 4.260.7

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Paper Authors

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Jerome P. Lavelle

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Robert Martinazzi

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

Session # 1339

Facilitating Student Learning in Engineering Economy Classes Through Context: “Making Horses Thirsty While You Lead Them To Water” Robert Martinazzi and Jerome Lavelle University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown and Kansas State University


It is absolutely essential that students acquire a fundamental understanding of the basic concepts of engineering economics early in the semester. If they fail to do so they become frustrated and disheartened with the course. This in turn seriously impedes their learning of the more complex material encountered later in the term. This scenario poses one of the most significant challenges facing any faculty member. Early in the course a learning environment must be developed which fosters both comprehension of and competence in the basic concepts subsequently used throughout the remainder of the semester.

One essential element in helping students learn the basic concepts of Engineering Economics focuses on “relevance”. When students deem course material “relevant” they inherently become more receptive and interested in the subject material. Relevance implies a connection to one’s personal life with the material having some definite personal value and impact on them as seen from their perspective. Once established, “relevance” leads naturally to motivation which represents the internal manifestation of a deep personal interest in the subject. One of the best ways to develop relevance and motivation involves presenting students with a series of personal financing “exercises” simulating actual financial situations they will encounter throughout their lives.

This exercise series, called “Life Long Learning Experiences”, administered during the first month of class establishes the relevance noted above. The “Life Long Learning Experiences” series focuses specifically on a multitude of subjects such as purchasing automobiles, mutual fund analysis, retirement planning strategies and establishing personal financial goals to meet specific objectives. Each of these subjects are of inherent interest to the students who will eventually encounter them in their lifetime.

This paper will examine and present the “Life Long Learning Experiences” series. It will explain how the series establishes relevance thereby increasing the student’s awareness and understanding of the basic concepts of engineering economics. The series illustrates personal financial decisions each individual must make and how the use of the basic concepts of Engineering Economics will help them to make these decisions as judicious as possible.

I. Introduction

Two things about learning and teaching have emerged recently that should impact the way all teachers approach their jobs. First, is the notion that the role of the classroom instructor is not one of teacher, rather it is one of facilitator of the learning process. Second are the results of research indicating learning is accelerated and more effective when instruction is interactive, paced correctly

1999 ASEE Annual Conference — Charlotte, North Carolina

Lavelle, J. P., & Martinazzi, R. (1999, June), Facilitating Student Learning In Engineering Economy Classes Through Context: Making Horses Thirsty While You Lead Them To Water" Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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