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Students – Ask Them to Eat Their Vegetables!

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Curriculum and Instruction in Engineering Mechanics

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Julian Ly Davis University of Southern Indiana

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Julian received his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in Engineering Mechanics in 2007. He spent a semester teaching at community college in the area and then spent two years at University of Massachusetts continuing his research in finite element modeling and biomechanics and continuing to teach. He has been at the University of Southern Indiana since 2010.

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Tom McDonald University of Southern Indiana

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Tom McDonald is an Associate Professor in the Engineering Department at the University of Southern Indiana. He serves as the Director for the MS Industrial Management Program. He earned his BSIE and MSIE degrees in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University and his PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech.
His research and teaching interests primarily include lean manufacturing, discrete event simulation and modeling, and engineering economy. Tom has been involved in lean manufacturing and modeling of production lines since 1999.

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As entry level mechanics class sizes in engineering programs continue to grow, some classes range to over 400 students per class, many faculty are turning to online homework based systems (Pearson’s Mastering, Wiley Plus and/or McGraw Hill’s Connect). These systems provide content, grading and assessment of student work, and feedback to the students while solving problems. One of the things that is missing from all of these tools is an assessment of the student’s communication of their thought process as they progress through a problem. Most problems in these systems provide step-by-step guidance where students are asked to “fill-in-the-blanks” with their answers. They do not allow for independent thought for the students to analyze and solve a problem in a manner that might make sense to themselves. In addition, they do not allow for analysis of that thought process by the faculty. Finally, there is no assessment of technical communication though drawings and presentation of solution.

There is still debate as to if these homework systems are the best mode of education for our students. This paper illustrates the overwhelming want from, and benefits to, students for handwritten homework. Teaching students how to solve a problem and present their work allows students to perform better of exams, and instills a formal/orderly documentation process that may be used in future technical communication. Maybe there is a middle ground?

Davis, J. L., & McDonald, T. (2018, June), Students – Ask Them to Eat Their Vegetables! Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31022

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