June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
NSF Grantees Poster Session
23.894.1 - 23.894.15
Evaluating Mechanix: A Sketch Recognition Truss Tutoring ProgramMechanix is a sketch recognition program that was developed at Texas A&M University.Mechanix provides an efficient and effective means for engineering students to learn how todraw truss free-body diagrams (FBDs) and solve truss problems. The Mechanix interface allowsfor students to sketch these FBDs, as they normally would by hand, into a tablet computer; amouse can also be used with a regular computer monitor. Mechanix is able to provide immediateand intelligent feedback to the students, and it tells them if they are missing any components ofthe FBD. The program is also able to tell students whether their solved reaction forces ormember forces are correct or not without actually providing the answers. A recent and excitingfeature of Mechanix is the creative design mode which allows students to solve open-ended trussproblems; an instructor can give their students specific minimum requirements for a truss/bridge,and the student uses Mechanix to solve and create this truss. The creative design feature ofMechanix can check if the students’ truss is structurally sound, and if it meets the minimumrequirements stated by the instructor.This paper presents a study to evaluate the effectiveness and advantages of using Mechanix inthe classroom as a supplement to traditional teaching and learning methods. Mechanix is alsotested alongside an established and popular truss program, WinTruss, to see how learning gainsdiffer and what advantages Mechanix offers over other truss analysis software. Freshmanengineering classes were recruited for this experiment and were divided into three conditions: acontrol condition (students who were not exposed to Mechanix or WinTruss and did theirassignments on paper), a Mechanix condition (students who used Mechanix in class and for theirassignments, and a WinTruss condition (students who used the WinTruss program for theirassignments). The learning gains among these three groups were evaluated using a series ofquantitative formal assessments which include a statics concepts inventory, homework sets,quizzes, exam grades and truss/bridge creative design solutions. Qualitative data was alsocollected through focus groups for all three conditions to gather the students’ impressions of theprograms for the experimental group and general teaching styles for the control group.Results from previous evaluations show Mechanix highly engages students and helps themlearning basic truss mechanics. This evaluation will be compared with previous evaluations toshow that Mechanix continues to be a great tool for enhancing student learning.
Atilola, O., & McTigue, E. M., & Hammond, T. A., & Linsey, J. S. (2013, June), Mechanix: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Sketch Recognition Truss Tutoring Program against other Truss Programs Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22279
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