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Impact of Teaching Style on Student Learning and Satisfaction in Statics Courses

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Flipped Classrooms in Mechanics

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.890.1 - 26.890.14



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Paper Authors


Rebecca Komarek University of Colorado, Boulder

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Rebecca Komarek is a PhD student in civil engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder with research in extracurricular learning and the sophomore year. She has co-taught topics such as educational research and leadership development and served as a design team advisor. She served as a statics instructor at CU-Denver and is the Assistant Director of the Idea Forge at CU-Boulder.

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Angela R. Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (CEAE). She serves as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Education in the CEAE Department, as well as the ABET assessment coordinator. Professor Bielefeldt is the faculty director of the Sustainable By Design Residential Academic Program, a living-learning community where interdisciplinary students learn about and practice sustainability. Bielefeldt is also a licensed P.E. Professor Bielefeldt's research interests in engineering education include service-learning, sustainable engineering, social responsibility, ethics, and diversity.

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Effect of Teaching Styles on Student Learning and Satisfaction in Statics CoursesThe purpose of this study is to understand the impact of the application of innovative teachingmethods in statics courses on student learning and attitudes regarding engineering. We continueto evaluate the quality and depth to which faculty apply diverse teaching strategies for staticscourses. We chose statics as our research target because of its place as a key required course inmany engineering disciplines. It generally is a sophomore level course with calculus and physicsas pre-requisites, and itself serves as a pre-requisite for multiple later courses. While there hasbeen much focus on first-year programs to improve student persistence, the sophomore year,while still having a large amount of attrition from engineering disciplines, is underrepresented inexisting data. Because of a lack of long-term persistence data for this study, student grades andsatisfaction are considered initial indicators of likelihood of student persistence in engineering.The research methodology includes a variety of assessments focused on both students andfaculty. Student topical knowledge was assessed using statics concept inventory (CATS) andanalysis of the course grade distribution. Student attitude assessment was assessed via theStudent Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) survey, in-class focus groups, and responses tocourse evaluations. Faculty member teaching style and motivation for teaching in a given mannerare studied through classroom observation and a 30-minute one-on-one interview. Thus far, datahas been gathered from three different statics instructors, two at a major state research university(MRU) and one from a nearby urban, regional state university (URU). In total, six staticssections were studied, for a total of 174 students participating.Initial results show an inconsistent correlation between grade earned in the statics course and thescore on the CATS assessment. Of the four sections with specific data available, the correlationcoefficients ranged from -0.385 to 0.267, all among sections taught by the same instructor.Three classroom observations, one of each instructor, resulted in a measure of teaching styleaccording to the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) which serves as a loosemeasure of the focus on active and conceptual learning in the classroom. Instructor scores were28, 51, and 74, with a maximum score of 100, which would indicate the class is perfectly“reformed.”Researchers ran two-tailed t-tests on the CATS assessment data from each section to determinewhether different teaching styles resulted different outcomes in performance. Results show nosignificant CATS assessment score difference between the classes of the most reformedinstructor (RTOP 74) and the least reformed instructor (RTOP 28). Both of these classes are atMRU. Significant differences (p-value < 0.05) did exist for the average CATS assessment scorefrom the two statics sections at MRU and two lowest scoring sections at (URU). These sectionsconsisted of students taking the statics class off cycle from the normal class schedule, indicatinglikelihood of having had to repeat either a prerequisite course or statics itself.In the fall 2014 semester, the researchers plan to gather data from two additional statics sectionsat MRU. Future analysis includes comparing student self-identified learning from the SALGassessment to CATS assessment scores and further exploring the relationship between instructorattitude and teaching style and student learning and satisfaction.

Komarek, R., & Bielefeldt, A. R. (2015, June), Impact of Teaching Style on Student Learning and Satisfaction in Statics Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24227

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