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Room with A VUE

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Novel Approaches to Teaching Materials

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1266.1 - 22.1266.17



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Paper Authors


John A. Nychka University of Alberta

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John was an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky for two years before returning to Canada and his alma mater, the University of Alberta, in 2007. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering teaching and coordinating the second year introductory materials engineering service course to many disciplines of engineering. John is active in the departmental Teaching Enhancement Committee which is mandated with improving the quality of teaching within the department. He has organized and co-organized teaching workshops to bring international speakers to the University of Alberta on topics of Assessment,and he is very active in student outreach at all levels.

John's passion is in the visualization of materials concepts through demonstrations and experiential learning through hands on exercises. Materials engineering is everywhere, and he enjoys showing people how everyday objects are extraordinary examples of engineering!

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Room with A VUEEngineering students are highly visual learners. Pedagogically, adapting to visual learning styleshas resulted in more visual presentation of material. Strategies range from diagrams toperforming or referring to demonstrations, photos, and schematics. However, visual learning isnot necessarily achieved through mere visual presentation and viewing of teaching materials.Visualization of complex concepts is an active process involving visual thinking; looking is notseeing, nor is seeing necessarily believing, understanding, and being able to demonstrateknowledge. Upon viewing a new concept students often reflect about their own tacit knowledgeand try to make a connection to the new concept, thereby creating their own knowledge.Unfortunately, as educators we often assume we don’t have control, or even awareness, of suchconnections in each of our students’ minds, thus it is exceedingly difficult to correct miss-stepsalong the way. However, by taking a proactive and creative approach, we can guide thevisualization process through seeded common experiences generated in the classroom, studyhall, or laboratory.This presentation will introduce a conceptual teaching approach called “Room with A VUE”.“Room with A VUE” is a system developed to create a learning environment which aids inenhancing student learning by making concepts Accessible, Visual, Unexpected, and Engaging.By creating a room in which the students find information accessible they then have the ability totap into their own tacit knowledge, and they are emotionally comfortable. By achieving a visualpresentation of the concept the students again are comfortable and more likely to pay attention.By showing something unexpected the students realize their knowledge gap and have anewfound fascination and motivation for solving the mystery. By engaging students they have ahigher probability to take responsibility for their learning. A key to solidifying the knowledge isto allow sufficient time for reflection, and to perform formative assessment shortly after deliveryof the experience. Summative assessment has a tendency to degrade the excitement andexplorative nature of these exercises.The “Room with A VUE” system has been applied in an introductory materials engineeringcourse to large groups of students (3 sections of 100+ students each) with great success. Thecreation of a demonstration kit called “What’s in the Box?” has allowed for direct application of“Room with A VUE” in the laboratory along with the lecture hall. Students are required topurchase a kit containing common objects ranging from mechanical pencils to paper clips(Accessible) – see next page. The exercises involve performing a task with the objects such asmelting the plastic of a mechanical pencil (Visual) and stretching it out to form a long and thinfilament (Unexpected). There is also a challenge to see who can make the longest filament(Engagement). The tasks are designed to demonstrate key concepts in the curriculum, especiallythose which are difficult to visualize. For the first time, students have remarked that the labs arefun, and the demonstrations have improved understanding of concepts as measured by targetedproblems and through formative assessment. “What’s in the Box?” A Demonstration Kit for Second Year Engineering StudentsLAB Session 1Experiments to be performed today (lab manual): 1. Tension Test 2. The MicroscopeDemos to be performed today (this worksheet): 1. Begin with a stretch! 2. Making polycrystal modelsStep 1: Make sure you have all the items in your demo kit. See image below.Items included: 41. Lighter 5 22. Ceramic cutting tool insert 1 33. Alloy 6061-T6 rod4. Alloy 1100 rod5. Egg of Silly PuttyTM6. Set of 3 postcards of various materials with descriptions on 6 the back7. Mechanical pencils 108. Bar magnet9. Box of 100 paper clips 710. “What’s in the Box?” sticker 9 8

Nychka, J. A. (2011, June), Room with A VUE Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18837

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