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Leveraging Screen Casts To Strategically Clarify Unclear Material Science Concepts

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Emerging Issues in Materials Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.847.1 - 14.847.15



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Paper Authors


Tershia Pinder-Grover University of Michigan

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Tershia Pinder-Grover is the Assistant Director at the Center for Research on Learning in Teaching (CRLT) at the University of Michigan (U-M). In this role, she is responsible for teacher training for new engineering graduate student instructors (GSIs), consultations with faculty and GSIs on pedagogy, workshops on teaching and learning, and preparing future faculty programs. Prior to joining CRLT, she earned her B.S. degree in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the U-M. Her current research interests include the effect of instructional technology on student learning and performance, effective teaching strategies for new graduate student instructors, and the impact of GSI mentoring programs on the mentors and mentees.

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Joanna Mirecki Millunchick University of Michigan

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Crisca Bierwert University of Michigan

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Lindsay Shuller University of Michigan

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

Leveraging Screencasts to Strategically Clarify Unclear Material Science Concepts Abstract

This paper presents findings from a study prompted by the desire to enhance students’ conceptual understanding of material science and engineering concepts in a large lecture introductory course. The pedagogy examined focuses on the use of online resources which students use to study selectively and at their own pace. Screencasts, recordings that capture audio narration along with computer screen images, are one such resource that can provide the rich, multimedia structure of a classroom lecture that engages students’ different learning styles. This paper compares strategies that instructors used in two iterations of the same course to identify topics on which to make supplemental screencasts, to help students understand difficult concepts. The paper further examines how screencasts in themselves may and may not contribute to student learning outcomes.

The methodology is as follows. In a first course iteration, students identify concepts or topics that they did not fully understand for a unit by turning in index cards at the end of class. This approach is inspired by a classroom assessment technique advocated in faculty development literature, “The Muddiest Point” assessment.1 Not surprisingly, the concepts students identified are topics that students have historically found difficult in this course (i.e. basis, true stress, error function, slip, lever rule, and polymer structures). However, survey data show that students reported only two topics were difficult (i.e. basis and polymer structures). Surprisingly, survey results indicate that the majority of students responding found all of the screencasts helpful regardless of whether they found a concept difficult or not. Other data suggest that the impact on student learning could be even greater, as both faculty and students learn to utilize this new resource. Addressing these concerns, in a second iteration of the course, students answer an online survey and self-report their comfort level with various course topics. These questions specifically align with the learning objectives of the unit. In this iteration, the professor develops a supplemental screencast when 30% or more of students identify a concept or topic as being unclear. This paper compares the results of these two approaches.

1. Introduction

Introduction to Materials and Manufacturing (MSE220) is a large survey course that poses distinct challenges for teaching and learning at the University of Michigan. MSE220 is a gateway course for MSE students but it is also a technical elective for students in other departments, with Aerospace, Chemical, and Industrial and Operations Engineering students comprising the majority of the class. Students also vary in their class standing from sophomores through graduating seniors, as well as in gender and ethnicity. Adding to this student diversity is the complexity of the survey course: the breadth of topics covered requires that students attain different kinds of conceptual and process understanding to grasp the varied topics.

This paper documents the first part of a series of course-based studies initiated by the professor of the course (Millunchick) to enhance student understanding, where the instructor saw that student performance was not, on the whole, meeting expectations. The professor began creating

Pinder-Grover, T., & Mirecki Millunchick, J., & Bierwert, C., & Shuller, L. (2009, June), Leveraging Screen Casts To Strategically Clarify Unclear Material Science Concepts Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5321

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