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Interactive Tutorial Modules For Basic Mechanics Topics

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Web-Based Learning in Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.785.1 - 13.785.8



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Paper Authors


Nirmal Das Georgia Southern University

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Nirmal K. Das is an associate professor of Civil Engineering Technology at Georgia Southern University. He received a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from Jadavpur University, India, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering (structures) from Texas Tech University. His areas of interest include structural analysis, structural reliability and wind engineering. Dr. Das is a registered professional engineer in Ohio and Georgia, and is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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

Interactive Tutorial Modules for Basic Mechanics Topics


This paper describes the different modules that have been created for several key mechanics topics, using Respondus in conjunction with WebCT Vista. . Each module supplies a diagnostic correction mechanism that identifies common student errors and provide specific feedback based on the type of mistake encountered. The examples in each module attempt to improve comprehension of a concept by leading students through a series of questions demonstrating how complex solutions are created by integrating individual small steps. In examples at the beginning, students are asked very basic questions about the material. Students then fill in blanks on the web page, select from multiple answers, or seek more in-depth help on the matter. When students answer a question, they are given instant feedback. Wrong answers lead to feedback on how the correct solution can be reached while correct answers allow students to move on to the next series of questions. The degree of difficulty increases with subsequent examples and asks students to do more steps simultaneously in order to fill in more than one blank or make more than one choice. The organization forces students to actively process the information in the example instead of just skipping ahead regardless of their consequences.

The paper also explains the development process for the modules, the student usage expectations and plans for future evaluation of any positive results.


A lack of understanding of the basic principles of Mechanics of deformable bodies is frequently observed among several Engineering Technology majors. These include concepts of free-body diagrams, stress, deformation, and shear and moment diagrams under different loadings. Since these constitute the foundation for the upper-level courses such as Structural Analysis and Structural design (Steel/ Reinforced Concrete), it is essential for the students to have a sound comprehension of all these concepts so they can apply them properly.

These students are juniors or seniors, and have already taken at least two courses in Mechanics: Statics and Strength of Materials. While dedicating class time to revisit those basic concepts can be of some assistance, the ability to practice in a positive environment that provides immediate feedback could be significantly more enlightening. Furthermore, the constraint of time to cover the course material for the upper level course always precludes any elaborate in-class reviews of background materials. However, online tutorials provide an out-of-class mechanism for students to learn key concepts, and well-crafted tutorials will help students to learn from the mistakes they make.

There are several computer-aided tools1,2,3,4,5 available to help students formulate the problems, solve them, and even test their understanding of subject matter6. Most of these tools are accompanied by graphics to present the problem and its solution. These applications can be classified into two categories: (a) commercially available software and (b) application programs

Das, N. (2008, June), Interactive Tutorial Modules For Basic Mechanics Topics Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3579

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