June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.733.1 - 24.733.9
Increasing Conceptual Understanding in an Engineering Core Course using a Statics Visualization ProgramInstructors and students of upper-level engineering courses often use software inside and outsideof the classroom to solve problems. However, software is less frequently used in lower-levelcourses. One likely reason for this lack of use in lower-level courses is the concern that studentsmay avoid manual solution of problems and thereby fail to develop foundational knowledge andproper problem solving approaches. This research attempts to answer whether in-classroom useof certain analysis software deepens student conceptual understanding and critical thinking in afoundational engineering course.Researchers have shown that using multi-media demonstrations of technical concepts inintroductory engineering is helpful in developing understanding, but they caution againstproviding too many details related to theory in an introductory course. Historically, when thetechnology to visualize both the calculations and the results in a real-time, classroomenvironment did not exist, these researchers focused exclusively on visualizing the resultingforce distribution or deformations and not on the process used to determine those results.The design of the current study involved comparing an experimental group (those who used thesoftware) with a control group. Each group consisted of two sections taught by two differentinstructors. The authors utilized the program ForceEffect produced by Autodesk in teachingFundamentals of Mechanics, EM220. The program augmented traditional, lecture-baseddiscussions as well as instructor hand derivations and examples in the classroom. The softwarealso allowed instructors to demonstrate “what if” types of questions with changes in appliedloads to specific problems discussed/taught in the classroom. Student performance on embeddedassessments (exams) were compared, and for cadets using the software, academic performanceshowed a positive correlation between using the software and exam performance. Finally,subjective feedback was gathered through the use of in-class feedback.By the end of the semester, cadets who demonstrated “success” in using this software performedbetter on conceptual understanding-based and application-based questions on the mid term andfinal exams. The benefit of utilizing the software was especially strong for the weaker studentsthat needed additional solutions and those students that were more visual learners. Thus, ourhypothosis that students with lower incoming GPAs might show better than predicted (based onGPA) performance was shown to be true.Jensen, D., Self, B., Rhymer, D., Wood, J., Bowe, M., “A rocky journey toward effectiveassessment of visualization modules for learning enhancement in Engineering Mechanics”,Educational Technology & Society, v5, n3, July, 2002.
Powell, O., & Richards, M., & Jensen, D. D., & Brown, N. M. (2014, June), Increasing Conceptual Understanding in an Engineering Core Course using a Statics Visualization Program Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20625
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