June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.770.1 - 12.770.27
From Tootsie Rolls to Composites: Assessing a Spectrum of Active Learning Activities in Engineering Mechanics Keywords: Active learning, hands-on activities, learning styles, Myers-Briggs
Abstract The introduction of active learning exercises into a traditional lecture has been shown to improve student learning. Hands-on learning opportunities in labs and projects provide a primary approach in the active learning toolbox. This paper presents a series of innovative hands-on active learning activities for mechanics of materials topics. These activities are based on a Methodology for Developing Hands-on Active Learning Activities, a systematic approach for efficient and effective activity development, and were robustly evaluated at three institutions of higher learning. These institutions include a research university (The University of Texas, Austin), a four-year primarily teaching institution (The US Air Force Academy) and a community college (Austin Community College in Austin Texas). Seven of the twenty-eight activities have been rigorously evaluated to date. Evaluation consisted of a variety of measures, including student opinion surveys, focus groups, pre/post activity quizzes, exam questions and a concept inventory. In addition, demographic information, student learning styles and Myers- Briggs Personality were measured and are correlated to the student evaluation measures. Data from over 150 students is summarized and insights gained are discussed. In general, students are excited about the hands-on activities in lecture, and they believe the activities enhance their learning. The majority of the assessment data also shows that the active learning activities enhance students’ understanding of the material. While these general findings exist, students’ opinions of the activities do vary with learning styles, institutions and their general understanding in the course. Learning styles, personality type, and perception of performance in the class all have influence on the students’ opinions of the activities and will be measured further in future activity development and evaluation.
1. Introduction and Motivation Active learning approaches improve students’ overall learning1. There is considerable literature that addresses the advantages of using hands-on experiences in an engineering curriculum2-15. Although the importance of active learning activities is well recognized, little formal guidance in a systematic approach for development exists16. Many experts believe that a systematic approach for research into how we educate engineers is needed to provide long-lasting improvement in engineering education17-19. The overarching focus of our current research is to design, develop, assess, and implement Active Learning Products (ALPs) that improve the student learning processes and environment. ALPs are activities, such as hands-on exercises, thought experiments, forensic investigations, physical measurements, interactive multimedia exercises, and design applications, that enhance student learning across learning styles and personality types.
This paper presents data on the assessment of ALPs at multiple higher education institutions (The University of Texas, Austin [UT], The US Air Force Academy [USAFA] and Austin Community College [ACC] ). To assess the ALPs for continual improvement, we seek to answer the following educational research questions: Question 1: Are the ALPs effective for improving learning? Question 2: Are the effects of the ALPs different, based on student characteristics?
Linsey, J., & Talley, A., & Jensen, D., & Wood, K., & Schmidt, K., & Kuhr, R., & Eways, S. (2007, June), From Tootsie Rolls To Composites: Assessing A Spectrum Of Active Learning Activities In Engineering Mechanics Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1737
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