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Impact of Classroom Demonstrations and Surveys on Higher-level Learning

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Learning and Assessment in ME 2

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Namhee Kim Texas A&M University

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Namhee Kim is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. She received her B.S. and M.E. in Mechanical & Control Engineering from the Handong Global University in South Korea. Her research is focused on developing a least-squares finite element model with spectral/hp approximations to analyze the flows of non-Newtonian fluids. She is also interested in teaching techniques and has worked with Dr. McVay and Dr. Srinivasa at Texas A&M University to develop an educational technique to improve student learning of key concepts in statics and particle dynamics.

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Matilda (Tillie) Wilson McVay Texas A&M University, Department of Mechanical Engineering

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Undergraduate Program Director, Mechanical Engineering Department: January, 2017 - present
Associate Professor of Instruction, Texas A&M University from 2001 - present (2017)
Doctoral Degree, Aerospace Engineering Texas A&M University, 1996
Employed by Exxon Company U.S.A. from 1982 -- 1986
Master of Science, Petroleum Engineering Texas A&M University, 1982
Bachelor of Science, Petroleum Engineering Colorado School of Mines, 1981
Tillie McVay has taught engineering courses for 16 years, and specifically Statics and Dynamics courses for 10 years. She has developed many demonstrations and classroom activities to better engage students in learning this material.

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Arun R. Srinivasa Texas A&M University

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Dr Arun Srinivasa is the Holdredge/Paul Professor and associate department head of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University and has been with TAMU since 1997. Prior to that he was a faculty at University of Pittsburgh. He received his undergraduate in mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India in 1986 and subsequently his PhD from University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include continuum mechanics and thermodynamics, simulations of materials processing, and smart materials modeling and design. His teaching interests include the use of technology for education, especially in the area of engineering mechanics and in effective teaching methodologies and their impact on student progress in mechanical engineering.

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Title: Class Hands-on Demonstrations and Online Surveys for Higher-level Learning

Abstract: Statics and Dynamics is a sophomore-level course required by most engineering majors at universities. It is quite challenging for many students to relate what is covered to how bodies behave in the real world, especially if they do not understand fundamental concepts. We are developing an educational technique for the Statics and Particle Dynamics course to clear up some common misconceptions which allows students to connect what they learn to real-world problems. This approach also allows students to be more actively involved in their learning by completing online surveys and participating in physical demonstrations during class. It is being implemented in six class sections during the fall 2016 semester where there are about 440 students with diverse engineering majors, such as industrial, chemical, biological, agricultural, mechanical, petroleum, nuclear, etc. The classes include many students who are not as comfortable with mechanical systems as mechanical engineering majors. Our technique is designed to measure the influence of physical demonstrations and follows these steps: 1. The students are given an online pre-survey on basic conceptual questions in a multiple choice format and answer based on their knowledge and intuition. 2. The results of the pre-survey are presented and discussed to provide students with immediate feedback. 3. A hands-on demonstration related to the pre-survey is performed where selected students participate and report their results to the class. 4. The students are given an online post-survey on more advanced problems in a multiple choice format. 5. The results of the post-survey are shown and discussed in class to give students feedback. To measure the effectiveness of a demonstration in increasing student understanding, different class sections are treated differently. One section completes the pre-survey, demonstration and post-survey, as outlined above. The other section performs the same pre/post surveys without a demonstration. The results of the pre/post surveys for the two groups can be compared. This combination of the surveys with demonstrations is one of the unique aspects of our technique. The surveys and discussion of those results get most of the students in class engaged in the demonstration compared to the few students who actually participate in it. This increased interest in the demonstration is reflected by the numerous discussions and enthusiastic comments among the students. The second unique aspect of our study is the measurement of the effectiveness of the demonstrations by comparing results between the classes performing the surveys/demonstrations to the classes taking the surveys only. We are attempting to measure whether the demonstrations make a significant difference in the understanding of key concepts in statics and dynamics. The outcomes of this study will show the results of the pre/post surveys comparing the classes that participated in the demonstrations to the classes that did not have the demonstrations. This will be done for several concepts of statics and particle dynamics that students have difficulty with. This developed approach is expected to offer students a more engaging learning environment with a measurable improvement in higher-level thinking relating what they study to real-world applications.

Kim, N., & McVay, M. T. W., & Srinivasa, A. R. (2017, June), Impact of Classroom Demonstrations and Surveys on Higher-level Learning Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28461

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