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Is There A Better Way To Present An Example Problem?

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Innovations in Teaching Mechanics

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.793.1 - 8.793.14



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Paper Authors

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Richard Hall

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Nancy Hubing

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David Oglesby

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Vikas Yellamraju

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Ralph Flori

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Timothy Philpot

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

Session 3268

Is There A Better Way To Present An Example Problem?

Timothy A. Philpot, Richard H. Hall, Ralph E. Flori, Nancy Hubing, David B. Oglesby, Vikas Yellamraju

University of Missouri – Rolla


Statics, Dynamics, and Mechanics of Materials are introductory engineering courses that employ principles of mechanics and mathematics to solve a wide array of engineering problems. Accordingly, these courses are taught largely through the use of example problems, traditionally delivered to students either by the professor in a classroom setting or by a textbook. The computer offers new possible ways for delivering instructional content such as example problems; however, there has been little data gathered to indicate whether computer-based instructional materials are as effective in communicating example problems to students as the more traditional lecture and textbook formats. During the 2002 fall semester at the University of Missouri – Rolla, a learning experiment was conducted in four sections of the Mechanics of Materials course based on the topic of shear flow. The goal was to assess the relative effectiveness of delivery mode on student comprehension of example problems. All participating students viewed a common video introductory lecture on shear flow. Then, students were randomly assigned into three groups that viewed two example problems either by: (a) video lecture presentation; (b) static HTML webpage delivery; or (3) interactive animated modules featuring high quality, three dimensional graphics created with Macromedia Flash software. This paper reports the details of this experiment and the results.

I. Introduction

Considerable time, money, and effort have gone into the development of learning technologies for engineering education in recent years due to the wide availability of capable computers, the world wide web, and powerful authoring environments. Unfortunately, a substantial number of these technology-based learning innovations have been developed with little thought given to design issues or to their systematic evaluation (Tergan, 1997). This is unfortunate because without meaningful feedback, the most effective new practices are not sufficiently identified, and ineffective practices are allowed to persist. The situation is changing, though. The current funding and accrediting agency mantra is “assess, assess, assess.” For example, the 2000 ABET criteria for engineering education ( strongly emphasizes the importance of a recursive method of course and curriculum evaluation. This process will surely lead to more effective practices.

This same criticism has been aimed at all types of educational hypermedia—not just those in engineering. There have been surprisingly few examinations of the efficacy of hypermedia learning systems. In particular, few studies have systematically examined factors that affect the usefulness of these tools (Landauer, 1995; Dillon & Gabbard, 1998). Research that has been conducted has mostly failed to find that hypermedia instructional systems are significantly more effective than traditional instruction. In a now classic review of thirty studies published in the Review of Educational Research, Dillon and Gabbard (1998) conclude, "The majority of experimental findings to date indicate no significant comprehension difference using hypermedia

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Hall, R., & Hubing, N., & Oglesby, D., & Yellamraju, V., & Flori, R., & Philpot, T. (2003, June), Is There A Better Way To Present An Example Problem? Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11921

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