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Physical Experiments to Enhance Model-eliciting Activity Implementation

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1041.1 - 25.1041.10



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Paper Authors

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Andrew Kean California Polytechnic State University


Brian P. Self California Polytechnic State University

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Brian P. Self obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech, and his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Utah. He worked in the Air Force Research Laboratories before teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy for seven years. Brian has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo since 2006. During the 2011-12 academic year he participated in a professor exchange, teaching at the Munich University of Applied Sciences. His engineering education interests include collaborating on the Dynamics Concept Inventory, developing model-eliciting activities in mechanical engineering courses, inquiry-based learning in mechanics, and design projects to help promote adapted physical activities. Other professional interests include aviation physiology and biomechanics.

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Mathew Bissonnette

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Physical Experiments to Enhance Model-Eliciting Activity ImplementationAbstractModel-Eliciting Activities (MEAs) use open-ended case studies to simulate authentic, real-worldproblems that small teams of students address. Our approach for this Phase 3 CCLI Project tookthe theoretical framework from mathematics education to create a strategic, scalable approachwhich addressed crucial goals in engineering education. As part of a multi-year and multi-University effort, [campus name withheld] has developed and tested several MEAs which useexperiments (or other physical/hands-on activities) to enhance student learning within themechanical engineering curriculum.In an attempt to best promote dissemination of MEAs to other universities, our experiment-basedMEAs are very broad in context and application. Some of the MEAs described here are designedfor 2nd-year core courses like Dynamics, whereas others described here are intended for upper-division elective courses. We describe MEAs with physical activities that are intended to be usedin “lecture-based” courses, and other MEAs with physical activities that are better utilized indedicated laboratory classes. In addition, for some of these activities, all students use equipmentprovided to them, whereas in others the students actually develop their own (low-cost)experimental hardware. Advantages and disadvantages of each application-type are presented.Of the six key principles of MEAs (Lesh et al, 2000), we found that physical experiments mostspecifically address the Model Construction Principle and the Self Assessment Principle. TheModel Construction Principle requires students to create a mathematical system to reasonablyaddress the needs and purpose of a given client. We specifically use the hands-on experiments toprovide opportunities to test the validity of their models by making predictions about thebehavior of physical system. The Self Assessment Principle requires that as students develop themodel, they must be put in a position that encourages self-evaluation of their work. The hands-onactivities that we describe here encourage students to test and revise their models by pushingthem past their initial ways of thinking to create a model that better meets the needs of the client.To assess student learning during implementation of these MEAs, we used pre-course and post-course testing with established Concept Inventories, as well as individual student reflections ofthe overall MEA experience.

Kean, A., & Self, B. P., & Bissonnette, M. (2012, June), Physical Experiments to Enhance Model-eliciting Activity Implementation Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21798

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