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Methodology And Tools For Developing Hands On Active Learning Activities

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Introducing Active Learning into ME Courses

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.927.1 - 11.927.31



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Paper Authors


Julie Linsey University of Texas-Austin

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JULIE LINSEY is a Ph.D. candidate in the Mechanical Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research focus is on systematic methods and tools for innovative and efficient conceptual design with particular focus on design-by-analogy. Contact:

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Brent Cobb U.S. Air Force Academy

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CAPT. BRENT COBB is an instructor of Engineering Mechanics at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He received his B.S. from the Air Force Academy and his M.M.E. degree from Auburn University. He previously worked for the Propulsion Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory, and his research there focused on development of low ac-loss superconducting films.

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Daniel Jensen U.S. Air Force Academy

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DAN JENSEN is a Professor of Engineering Mechanics at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has worked for Texas Instruments, Lockheed Martin, NASA, University of the Pacific, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and MacNeal-Schwendler Corp. His research includes development of innovative design methodologies and enhancement of engineering education.

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Kristin Wood University of Texas-Austin

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KRISTIN WOOD is the Cullen Trust Endowed Professor in Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Wood’s current research interests focus on product design, development, and evolution. The current and near-future objective of this research is to develop design strategies, representations, and languages that will result in more comprehensive design tools, innovative manufacturing techniques, and design teaching aids at the college, pre-college, and industrial levels. Contact:

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Saad Eways Austin Community College

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SAAD EWAYS is presently professor of Physics and Engineering and Assistant Dean of Math and Science at Austin Community College (ACC) where he teaches courses in both physics and engineering. He served as Department Head from 96-97 and Assistant Dean of Math and Science from 97-01. Dr. Eways received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He received an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering and an M.S. and a B.S. in Electrical Engineer from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Eways is very interested in improving student retention, increased student success and better and more efficient ways to teach science.

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

Methodology and Tools for Developing Hands-on Active Learning Activities

Abstract Active learning hands-on activities improve students’ learning. More active learning tools, approaches and activities for the engineering curriculum are critical for the education of the next generation of engineers. A new methodology specifically aimed at the creation of hands- on active learning products (ALPs) has been developed and is described in detail with examples. Methodology provides guidance for a more effective and efficient development process. Educational theory forms a solid basis for this methodology. A set of activities based on the methodology for implementation in a mechanics of materials class is described. Preliminary evaluation results for the ALPs from the US Air Force Academy and Austin Community College show the potential of this approach.

Keywords: Active learning, hands-on activities, methodology, in-lecture activities, mechanics of materials

1. Introduction Active learning approaches improve students’ overall learning1. There is considerable literature that addresses the advantages of using hands-on experiences in an engineering curriculum2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15. Although the importance of active learning activities is well recognized, little formal guidance in a systematic approach for development exists16. This paper presents a methodology for developing active learning products (ALPs) beginning with gathering information from the stakeholders (customers) and ending with final implementation and evaluation in a course. This methodology founds itself on a solid understanding of pedagogical theory much the same way product design theory is tightly tied to an understanding of the physical world. This paper begins with a brief overview of learning styles and pedagogical theory that guide hands-on activity development. Then the method is described in detail with examples. A set of activities based on the methodology for combined loading in mechanics of materials is outlined. The preliminary evaluation results from Austin Community College (ACC) and the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) show students feel these activities are improving what they learn. The future work for this project is then discussed.

2. Learning Styles & Pedagogical Theory Overview Educational theory plays a foundational role for the methodology and the development of ALPs. We selected two methods to categorize student’s learning styles: (1) MBTI, (2) VARK, and five models of the learning process: (1) Kolb, (2) Bloom’s taxonomy, (3) Scaffolding, (4) Inductive / Deductive flows, and (5) Learning from Multimedia. Each of these is described briefly below. Although these educational or psychological theories are, of course, not our original work, there are aspects of the use of these in our educational innovations that are original. These include 1) the particular mix of two methods to categorize student’s learning styles and four models of the learning process which gives our work a more balanced foundation than may be possible if one bases their approach on one or two theories only, 2) our work showing correlation between MBTI and particular learning propensities is original.

Linsey, J., & Cobb, B., & Jensen, D., & Wood, K., & Eways, S. (2006, June), Methodology And Tools For Developing Hands On Active Learning Activities Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--780

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