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Faculty-Coached, Team-Based, In-Class Problem Solving in a Systematic Approach Toward Undergraduate Dynamics

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Statics and Dynamics in Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Alan Bowling University of Texas, Arlington

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Prof. Alan Bowling is from Austin, Texas and obtained his Bachelor's degree in Aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1988. After graduating he worked for McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Company in Houston, Texas for two years before going to graduate school at Stanford University and obtaining a Masters degree as well as a Ph. D. in Mechanical engineering in 1998. After graduation he pursued entrepenuerial activities in California for about three years. He joined the faculty at the University of Notre Dame in 2001 and moved to The University of Texas at Arlington in 2008. Prof. Bowling's interests lie in the areas of multibody dynamics, design, and control with a focus in robotic legged locomotion, as well as biomechanics at different time scales.

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Ashley Guy

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Ashley Guy is a doctoral student with the Robotics, Biomechanics, and Dynamic Systems Laboratory at the University of Texas at Arlington. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. with Dr. Alan Bowling. His research includes micro- and nano-scale dynamics.

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Frasier Jones University of Texas, Arlington

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Maria Adamuti-Trache University of Texas, Arlington

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This paper describes a new tool in active and participative learning that effectively teaches theory and practice in problem solving in undergraduate dynamics in class during a lecture period. This tool has been used with a new systematic approach toward undergraduate dynamics with positive results. This approach addresses three key components that are known to be effective techniques in teaching and learning: 1) student engagement, 2) team-based problem solving, and 3) direct questioning. As in other approaches toward faculty-coached in-class problem solving, it is built upon a certain restructuring of the course material, which is referred to as a systematic approach to vector mechanics in dynamics. In this application, the problem solving process is divided into a number of steps or modules such that the students can proceed through the problem solving process in a nearly linear fashion. The students can easily learn the structure of this process, which leaves them with the problem of applying it to particular cases. The in-class session begins with the instructor asking each student in turn to add one step toward the solution of a particular problem. If a student does not know twhat to do next, he/she simply punts to the next student, and so on. Thus all students must monitor the process in order to know what the next step will be, keeping them engaged. They are essentially solving the problem as a team, with the instructor leading the inquiry, since they must all contribute to the solution. In a 1.5 hour period with a 60 student enrollment, the instructor can ask a question of every student approximately twice. This forces quiet students or other typically non-participating students to get involved. In the literature, this technique has proven particularly successful with female students in several different contexts. Addressing these three aspects of active and participative learning has proven to be highly effective in teaching dynamics to undergraduate dynamics.

Bowling, A., & Guy, A., & Jones, F., & Adamuti-Trache, M. (2016, June), Faculty-Coached, Team-Based, In-Class Problem Solving in a Systematic Approach Toward Undergraduate Dynamics Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26890

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