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Promoting Research-based Instruction in Statics and Dynamics: A Virtual Community of Practice

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

New Teaching Methods in Mechanics

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1020.1 - 24.1020.15



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Paper Authors


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 2011-2012 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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Edward J. Berger University of Virginia Orcid 16x16

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Edward Berger is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. He was one of the co-leaders for the Mechanics VCP in 2013.

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Promoting Research-Based Instruction in Statics and Dynamics: A Virtual Community of PracticeAlthough research shows that instructional techniques such as active, collaborative, andinductive learning result in better conceptual understanding and improved student motivation,many of these practices are still now widely used in engineering education. Hour long workshopsare not long enough to learn to effectively use these techniques, and do not seem to result inlong-term adoption of these practices in the classroom. To help address this problem, five virtualcommunities of practice (VCP) were established to address topical areas as part of an NSF-funded project. One of these focused on Statics and Dynamics; 20 instructors from research-based, community colleges, and MS granting institutions participated in the Mechanics VCP.The VCP was centered on aligning the classroom around teaching objectives, classroomactivities, and assessment and utilized the How Learning Works framework for discussions.Topics included Bloom’s taxonomy and writing learning objectives, active learning strategies,collaborative learning, conceptual understanding, hands-on activities, and flipping the classroom.An initial 8 week period introduced these topics and helped the instructors formulate their plansfor the upcoming term, and a follow-on period is currently underway to help guide participantsthrough this implementation. Participants reported benefiting from the weekly scheduled time todiscuss teaching practices, learning about the different techniques, and especially hearing aboutwhat their peers are doing in the classroom. Challenges included logistical and technical issues,setting the proper scope of the VCP, and maintaining full participating and engagement of thecommunity.

Self, B. P., & Berger, E. J. (2014, June), Promoting Research-based Instruction in Statics and Dynamics: A Virtual Community of Practice Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22953

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