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Integration of Prerequisite Resource Materials in a Structural Design of Foundations Course Using Pencasts

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Innovative Techniques in Structural Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.790.1 - 24.790.17



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Paper Authors


Jeffrey A. Laman Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Professor of structural engineering teaching capstone design, design of steel structures, bridge engineering, analysis, structural design of foundations, and analysis. Research areas -- engineering education, bridge behavior, progressive collapse.

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Mary Lynn Brannon Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Mary Lynn Brannon is the Instructional Support Specialist at the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education, College of Engineering, at the Pennsylvania State University, USA. She has a Master of Arts Degree in Education and Human Development specializing in Educational Technology Leadership. Her work focuses on projects assess student perceptions of learning related to their experiences with engineering course innovations. She has worked extensively in the design of assessment tools for course methods and activities. She is a faculty development consultant with previous experience in instructional design, and the instructor of the Graduate Teaching Assistant Seminar for engineering teaching assistants at Penn State.

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Integration of Prerequisite Resource Materials in a Structural Design of Foundations Course Using PencastsAbstractAs students enter the final year of an engineering curriculum, a large body of prerequisiteknowledge is expected to have been mastered and retained. Knowledge of and proficiency inmechanics, structural analysis, and both concrete and steel structure design is typically requiredfor success in senior level civil engineering design electives and capstone courses. However,students retain only a fraction of the material covered and proficiency gained in second and thirdyear engineering courses as they progress to the fourth year. And the knowledge and proficiencyretention level varies significantly from student to student. As technology available to highereducation advances, and student comfort level with technology increases, instructors are makingincreased use of current technological devices. However, the efficacy and effectiveness of thetechnology is an important consideration that must be evaluated.The present study evaluates the effectiveness of pencast technology for civil engineering studentsin a structural engineering focus. Pencast files can be distributed and archived for students in anumber of formats on a variety of electronic platforms. The pencast file is most commonlydistributed as a “talking PDF” that is essentially a video of paper pages capturing an instructor’swriting and voice. Students focusing in structural engineering typically enter a capstone withprerequisites of structural analysis, concrete structure design, steel structure design, and someexperience with foundation design/engineering. The study focuses on knowledge of bothstructural analysis and concrete design as prerequisite courses for Structural Design ofFoundations at a large, research institution. Objectives of the study are to evaluate the efficacyand effectiveness of pencasts in this course as part of a larger, funded study to evaluate pencastsand other electronic media, as archived resources for capstone students in all focus areas of civilengineering.Students’ perceptions of using the pencasts as review or readiness for class is assessedformatively using pre and post online surveys and voluntary focus groups. The pre-surveytargets students’ prior experience with using supplemental online materials and their perceptionsof this experience. The post survey targets students’ perceptions of using the pencaststhroughout the semester; the behavior of use (number of times accessed, amount of time on task,repeated use of the same pencasts), and the value to students learning in the course. The focusgroups help to obtain richer and deeper perceptions within a small group discussion.Introduced in a Structural Design of Foundations course is a series of pencasts that reviewspecific, isolated knowledge kernels in ten to fifteen minute segments. The course waspreviously taught consistently over the past 6 academic years by one of the authors withcollected data on student performance. The study compares prior outcomes of the course on thebasis of examination assessments and design problem performance to similar measures in thenewly designed version. The current semester course functions as in the past with the inclusionof pencasts. This paper will describe the current study and share previous results. Thoseinstructors who are interested in using a classroom flip strategy to prepare students for class maybenefit from this presentation.

Laman, J. A., & Brannon, M. L. (2014, June), Integration of Prerequisite Resource Materials in a Structural Design of Foundations Course Using Pencasts Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20682

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