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Online Learning Objects: Do They Enhance Mastery Of Mechanical Engineering Concepts?

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Innovations in Mechanical Engineering Education Poster Session

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1126.1 - 12.1126.10



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Paper Authors


Jeffrey Marchetta University of Memphis

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Jeffrey G. Marchetta — joined the faculty of The University of Memphis in 2002. As a member of the AIAA, he received the Abe Zarem Award for distinguished Achievement in 2000. His research interests include the modeling of flows with free surfaces, verification and validation of computational simulations, magnetic fluid management in reduced gravity, and particle image velocimetry. Dr. Marchetta received a B.S.M.E. degree (1997), an M.S.M.E. (1999), and a Ph.D. from The University of Memphis (2002).

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Edward Perry University of Memphis

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Edward H. Perry - is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Memphis, where he has served on the faculty since 1970. He received his university's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1977 and again in 2000. He also received the Herff College of Engineering's Outstanding Teaching Award in 1999. He is currently Co-Editor of the MERLOT Engineering Editorial Board and Co-Editor of the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. He received his B.S. (1966), M.S. (1967) and Ph.D. (1970) in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

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

Online Learning Objects: Do They Enhance Mastery of Mechanical Engineering Concepts?


An expanded study is presented to determine whether the use of online learning objects enhances mastery of key concepts in mechanical engineering. Each course in the department has a defined set of required competencies that each student must satisfy in order to receive a passing grade in the course. Multiple opportunities are provided for satisfying each course competency during the semester, including the final examination.

Three introductory mechanical engineering courses, dynamics, fluid mechanics, and thermodynamics were selected for this study. After introducing the concept underlying the given competency in class, students were assigned a homework set that required the use of an online learning object related to the competency. Mastery of the concept was tested using a competency quiz administered during the next class meeting and multiple-choice problems on the final examination.

The performance of students who had used the online learning objects was compared to that of students in previous semesters who had covered the same material and had been assigned similar homework in the traditional manner of chalkboard and written assignments. Differences in the performances of the two groups will be discussed along with a learning styles assessment conducted for the students in both classes. Also, two online learning objects were selected to assist students for two different concepts in two courses to assess whether the instructors choice of the learning objects was an important factor in helping students master course competencies.

Introduction It has been well established in the literature1-3 that engineering students are typically visual rather than verbal learners. Nonetheless, engineering instructors still rely heavily on the traditional lectures to teach students. While lectures are often accompanied by sketches on the chalkboard or pictures projected onto a screen, the primary instructional tool is still verbal in nature. All too often the instructional approach is still “instructor-centered” rather than “student-centered.”

Accompanying the dramatic rise in the use of the internet in the past ten years has been the development and collection of online learning materials. A learning object is any entity, be it digital or non-digital that may be used for education and/or training4. With regard to online learning, these objects can be comprised of Web pages, portable documents, databases, animations, applets, and movies. Online learning objects are increasingly being used to supplement traditional lectures and are becoming an important foundation to the delivery of online courses. Cost-effective and efficient delivery of online learning tools has become a focus in recent years. Several organizations, activities, and consortia, such as Ariadne5, MERLOT6,

Marchetta, J., & Perry, E. (2007, June), Online Learning Objects: Do They Enhance Mastery Of Mechanical Engineering Concepts? Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2395

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