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Khan Academy Style Videos For Sophomore To Senior Aerospace Engineering Courses (Work in Progress Paper)

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Innovations in Aero Curriculum and Program Level Administration

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Paper Authors


John Valasek Texas A&M University

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John Valasek is the Thaman Professor of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, the Director, Center for Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Systems (CANVASS), the Director, Vehicle Systems & Control Laboratory, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, and member of the Honors Faculty at Texas A&M University. He teaches courses in Aircraft Design, Atmospheric Flight Mechanics, Modern Control of Aerospace Systems, Vehicle Management Systems, and Cockpit Systems & Displays. John created the senior/graduate level course AERO 445 Vehicle Management Systems, which was the first regularly offered course on this topic in a U.S. aerospace engineering department.

John earned the B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 1986 and the M.S. degree with honors and the Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas, in 1990 and 1995 respectively.

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Debra A Fowler Texas A&M University

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Dr. Debra Fowler serves as the Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Texas A&M University. Following 16 years working in industry she completed a Ph.D. is in Interdisciplinary Engineering with a specific focus on engineering education from Texas A&M University. Her research areas of focus are faculty perspectives and growth through curriculum design and redesign, interdisciplinary teaching and learning, reflective eportfolios and professional development of graduate students related to teaching.

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Nate Poling Texas A&M University

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As an educator and faculty developer, Nate is interested in leveraging the power of popular culture and multimedia to help facilitate effective learning. In a teaching career that has ranged from the K12 to the Ph.D. levels, he has always stressed the importance of using relevant material in motivating and engaging students in the learning process. At the Center for Teaching Excellence at Texas A&M University, Nate specializes in helping faculty increase student engagement through the use of technology and interactive teaching strategies. He also conducts classroom teaching observations, facilitates a wide range of professional development workshops, and is available for individual or group faculty consultations.

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Work in Progress Paper. Aerospace engineering students frequently encounter difficulty in their upper division courses because the course material is not only advanced but strongly specific to aerospace technical details, compared to the general engineering content of the lower division courses. Consequently students must learn many new concepts and analysis techniques which are new to them. Some of these, such as the vector derivative technique popularly known as the Transport Theorem, directly build upon previously learned concepts and theories but are nevertheless difficult to master. Others, such as the numerical method for calculating the aerodynamic center location of aircraft known as the Multhopp Method, do not build directly upon any previously taught core concepts and must be mastered at the current time. The lectures which introduce and then develop these concepts are usually very detailed and technical dense by necessity. Students therefore audio record these lectures for repeated playback outside of class, but the associated derivations and diagrams cannot easily be captured unless take with cell phone video during lecture. This solution is not good since picture and audio quality can suffer, and many professors do not wish to be videotaped during a lecture. This situation has led students to request formally made and approved high quality videos (technical content and production values) which can be repeatedly viewed outside of lecture as needed.

The objective of the work described in this paper is improved student understanding and mastery of specific technical theories, concepts, and methods as defined by specific ABET outcomes. It will detail a three year university sponsored project to develop a series of Khan Academy style videos which are specific to aerospace engineering topics which students historically find challenging to understand and master. During the first year a set of three videos are being created for the junior level airplane stability and control course. During the second year a set of three videos will be created for the sophomore level dynamics course that is a prerequisite course for the junior course. In the third year a set of three videos will be created for the sophomore level Introduction to Aerospace Engineering course. The videos are being created in reverse curriculum order because the author has many years of experience with the junior level courses, but not as much experience with the sophomore level prerequisite courses. Starting with the terminal concepts videos will also ensure that essential nuances needed in the earlier videos will be included.

The author has identified the challenges faced by students in these courses from student questionnaire evaluations and his own experience in over a period of 22 years. Each video will be discipline specific and focused on only one technical concept or idea, and have a maximum length of ten minutes. The video content will be derivations, animations, case studies, and still photographs and short videos if necessary. Effectiveness of the project will be post-course student outcomes assessed with written exams, quizzes, and oral questioning that is compared to previously accumulated data over a 22 year period. Results, student comments, and faculty experiences and recommendations will be presented in the paper.

Valasek, J., & Fowler, D. A., & Poling, N. (2017, June), Khan Academy Style Videos For Sophomore To Senior Aerospace Engineering Courses (Work in Progress Paper) Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28599

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