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Neoclassical Active Learning Approach For Structural Analysis

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.873.1 - 8.873.13

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Julio Davalos

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

Session 2793

Neoclassical Active Learning Approach for Structural Analysis

Julio F.Davalos, Christopher J.Moran, Shilpa S.Kodkani

West Virginia University


Most beginning students in an introductory structural analysis course do not appear to have a sound understanding of fundamental concepts, and in general, students lack the ability to visualize the deformed shapes of simple structures. One possible reason for this learning deficiency may be that the classical lecture-mode of teaching by itself may not be sufficient for students to grasp basic concepts, and a more active classroom participation by students may be needed. The objective of this study is to provide an interactive and a collaborative, team-oriented classroom environment for students to explore theoretical concepts through physical experiments and computer modeling. The primary guiding principle in the development of the laboratory modules is constructivism, which was implemented by creating an experiential learning environment through the use of active learning techniques. The laboratory sessions provide an opportunity for students to enquire, explore, collaborate, and have fun while learning. Eleven laboratory modules have been developed, covering topics from static equilibrium to the measurement of displacements and strains for beams, frames and trusses. The laboratory provides an excellent forum for experiential learning, whereby an experience is transformed into knowledge. The final result is a comprehensive teaching approach that efficiently merges theory, computer modeling, and experiments into an exciting learning environment. The use of an active learning approach has proved to be successful in enhancing the ability of students to master the fundamental topics of structural analysis. The development of active learning environments should be considered for other engineering courses where students have difficulty with fundamental concepts or where the ability to visualize physical behaviors is essential in understanding and mastering the course material.


We present in this paper laboratory and computer activities, which are designed to complement the lecture portion of an introductory structural analysis junior-level course in Civil Engineering curricula. The objective is to create an effective environment for students to dynamically participate in their own learning by adopting an “active learning approach,” which combines classical methods of analysis with laboratory experiments and computer modeling.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Davalos, J. (2003, June), Neoclassical Active Learning Approach For Structural Analysis Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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