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Integrating Effective General Classroom Techniques With Domain Specific Conceptual Needs

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.756.1 - 9.756.11



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Paper Authors

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Anna Dollar

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Paul Steif

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1793


Paul S. Steif, Anna Dollár

Department of Mechanical Engineering Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 /

Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Department Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056


Instructors are increasingly made aware of techniques that can be of benefit to their student’s learning. These include: having students play an active role in their own learning1-3, allowing students to benefit from collaboration with one another4, integrating assessment into activities so as to give students feedback on their learning5-7, and offering students concrete physical referents or examples corresponding to concepts which they are learning8. Yet, what are concrete ways in which these techniques can be employed in the classroom?

In addition, these are general techniques, potentially applicable to many subjects. These techniques need to be infused with content, but the instructor has to decide what content is appropriate for his or her course. In this regard, another general tenet of learning can be helpful: students learn by making connections to that which they already know9. This has commonly been taken to mean that an instructor should have an understanding of the knowledge with which a student enters course. Yet another interpretation is that the progression of ideas in a course should be build upon each other. That is, ideas addressed first should help in understanding later ideas.

In this paper we present examples of how these techniques can be used to help students build their conceptual understanding in several engineering subjects, namely Statics, Dynamics, and Mechanics of Materials. These techniques are encapsulated in what we term Learning Modules: these may include objects to manipulate or examine, PowerPoint Presentations and Concept Questions10-11. The instructor controls the PowerPoint Presentations which step students through a variety of ideas or questions related to the objects. The Concept Questions are akin to Mazur’s ConcepTests12: these are multiple-choice questions that assess student understanding of concepts, and which require little or no analysis. Students vote for the different answers through manual or electronic means.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Dollar, A., & Steif, P. (2004, June), Integrating Effective General Classroom Techniques With Domain Specific Conceptual Needs Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13943

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