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Hands On Learning in a Remote Introduction to Statics Classroom Environment

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Hands-On in the Online Classroom

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Sarah Wodin-Schwartz P.E. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Prof. Sarah Wodin-Schwartz joined WPI in August 2015. While at UC Berkeley for her Ph.D., Prof. Wodin-Schwartz was a teaching assistant for both mechanical and electrical engineering courses including Introduction to Mechatronics for which she received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award. Before joining WPI, Prof. Wodin-Schwartz spent two years at the technical consulting firm Exponent Inc. where she conducted failure analyses and design evaluations for projects ranging from consumer products to power systems. As a consultant she worked with over 75 different clients ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies.

Prof. Wodin-Schwartz is passionate about teaching core engineering and critical thinking skills that apply to application driven problem solving. She is excited to work with students to help them understand not only the technical skills required of them as engineers but also the social, environmental, and physical implications of implementing technical engineering solutions. Her work with adding context to problems and projects her courses has lead her to receive teaching awards including the Russell M. Searle and Morgan Distinguished Instructorships in Mechanical Engineering, the Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award, and the KEEN Rising Star Award.

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Kimberly Lechasseur Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Dr. Kimberly LeChasseur is a researcher and evaluator with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She holds a dual appointment with the Center for Project-Based Learning and the Morgan Teaching and Learning Center. Her PhD is in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Temple University and she has more than ten years of experience researching professional learning of educators and evaluating efforts to improve students' opportunities to learn.

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Caitlin A Keller Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Caitlin Keller is the Instructional Designer for Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her primary role involves partnering with teaching faculty to create and develop courses in the online, blended, and face-to-face environments. Caitlin serves as the designer, facilitator, and instructional design consultant for the Faculty Institute for Online Teaching program. Caitlin holds a Master of Science degree in Learning Technologies and Instructional Design from Drexel University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Lebanon Valley College.

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Active learning, such as hands-on activities, provides students with opportunities to develop skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork [1] [2]. Incorporating hands-on learning into the classroom environment involves several challenges including the design of the activities, building and setup of equipment, and reallocation of limited contact hours. While challenges exist for in-class hands-on learning, further hurdles, such as access to materials and activity scaffolding, are presented when adapting hands-on learning for remote course delivery.

This paper describes the process of designing a series of remote hands-on activities, called Hands on Learning Days (HOLD), for an Introduction to Statics course based on materials that students have in their residences. Techniques to increase student access to the hands-on experiences included designing each activity using common materials that have many possible substitutions such as string, which is easily replaced with thread, floss or computer cables.

Student-learning gains from the remote hands-on activities are presented and compared with those from an in-person hands-on instructional environment through the use of a midterm course evaluation and the Student Assessment of their Learning Gains (SALG) administered upon completion of the course. The vast majority (91%) of students had no or little difficulty finding the supplies needed to complete the HOLD activities. The findings suggest that, even under the extreme circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, HOLD had a positive effect on student learning. In 5 of the 14 learning outcomes assessed, the effect of HOLD was equal to or greater than the effect of attending lecture and had a compensatory effect, allowing similar learning to the average in-person, pre-pandemic learning environment.

[1] L. Robertson, “Toward an Epistemology of Active Learning in Higher Education and Its Promise,” in Active Learning Strategies in Higher Education: Teaching for Leadership, Innovation, and Creativity, 1st ed., Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing Limited, 2018. [2] B. Trilling and C. Fadel, 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, 1st ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009.

Wodin-Schwartz, S., & Lechasseur, K., & Keller, C. A. (2021, July), Hands On Learning in a Remote Introduction to Statics Classroom Environment Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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