June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.1085.1 - 26.1085.9
Lessons Learned from Collaborative Development of Research-Based Course MaterialsA great many course materials have been developed for engineering mechanics courses, and themajority of them are not widely used. It is often difficult to incorporate an entirely new visioninto an existing course, and instructors all have their own particular goals and concerns abouttheir courses. The purpose of this paper is to report on the experiences of several facultymembers as they seek to incorporate newly developed course materials into their mechanics ofmaterials courses. We report on our experiences following a one-and-a-half day collaborativecourse materials development workshop. After discussions of previous and ongoing research onstudent conceptual understanding of mechanics of materials, we worked in small groups todevelop course materials covering mechanics of materials topics including the major loadingscenarios (axial, bending, torsional and combined loads). The authors of this paper include boththe student understanding researchers and mechanics of materials instructors. Our collectiveinstructional experience ranges across class sizes from 1 to 100, and from two-year institutions tograduate courses relying heavily on mechanics of materials as a prerequisite.The research presented in the workshop on student conceptual understanding of mechanics ofmaterials proposes two broad themes that underlie many student difficulties. First, they find thatstudents – even successful graduate students – still struggle with differentiating core conceptssuch as stress, strain, force and load. They argue that these difficulties persist in spite ofeducation because they require students recategorize their knowledge. Such recategorization hasbeen shown to be the most difficult form of conceptual learning. Secondly, they find that themost difficult concepts and problems require students to move between two distinct cognitivedomains. Students seem to understand “analytical” concepts (Mohr’s circle, stress elements,various moduli) as entirely separate from “real” or “physical” concepts (deformations, failure,and, for some students, stress and strain). Students do not typically receive explicit instructionon the relationships between analyses and physical realities in mechanics of materials.We developed course materials to address both of these general concerns in specific contentmodules. In one set of materials, for example, students are guided through predictions,measurements and explanations of deformation and strain in an elastic band. These exercisesencourage students to carefully construct physical understandings of the differences betweenstress, strain and deformation, which will scaffold their recategorization of their knowledge.Other course materials help students investigate the limitations of their measurements andcalculations with the elastic band. This is intended to help them develop keener awareness of therelationships between physical and analytical realities.This paper and presentation will share the in-class pragmatic challenges faced in trying totranslate such abstract, large ideas into specific class activities, complete with learning objectivesand assessments. As a group, we will share our insights as we proceed in this process.
Montfort, D., & Brown, S. A., & Riley, C. E., & Barroso, L. R., & Pollock, D. G., & Light, J., & Lenz, A. (2015, June), Lessons Learned from Collaborative Development of Research-based Course Materials Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24422
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