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Toward Benchmarking Student Progress in Mechanics: Assessing Learning Cycles through Mastery Learning and Concept Questions

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

MASS: Mastery, Assessment and Success of Students

Tagged Division

Mechanics

Page Count

35

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37918

Download Count

136

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Paper Authors

biography

Christopher Papadopoulos University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Christopher Papadopoulos is Professor in the Department of Engineering Sciences and Materials at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM). He earned B.S. degrees in Civil Engineering and Mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University (1993) and a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at Cornell University (1999). Prior to UPRM, Papadopoulos served on the faculty in the Department of Civil engineering and Mechanics at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Papadopoulos has diverse research and teaching interests in structural mechanics and bioconstruction (with emphasis in bamboo); appropriate technology; engineering ethics; and mechanics education. He has served as PI of several NSF-sponsored research projects and is co-author of Lying by Approximation: The Truth about Finite Element Analysis. He is active in the Mechanics Division.

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Aidsa I. Santiago-Román University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Dr. Aidsa I. Santiago-Román is a Professor and Chair in the Engineering Sciences and Materials (CIIM) Department at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM). Dr. Santiago earned a BS and MS in Industrial Engineering from UPRM and Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Dr. Santiago has over 20 years of experience in academia and has been successful in obtaining funding and publishing for various research projects. She's also the founder and advisor of the first ASEE student chapter in Puerto Rico.

Her research interests include investigating students' understanding of difficult concepts in engineering sciences, especially for underrepresented populations (Hispanic students). She has studied the effectiveness engineering concept inventories (Statics Concept Inventory - CATS and the Thermal and Transport Concept Inventory - TTCI) for diagnostic assessment and cultural differences among bilingual students. She has also contributed to the training and development of faculty in developing and evaluating various engineering curriculum and courses at UPRM, applying the outcome-based educational framework.

She has also incorporated theories on social cognitive career choices and student attrition mitigation to investigate the effectiveness of institutional interventions in increasing the retention and academic success of talented engineering students from economically disadvantaged families. She's also involved in a project that explores the relationship between the institutional policies at UPRM and faculty and graduate students' motivation to create good relationships between advisors and advisees.

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Edward Fritz Hillman University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Edward Hillman is a recent BSc mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. During his Bachelor's he studied the mechanical characterization of full culm bamboo and worked as a systems engineering intern at Lockheed Martin. He plans to pursue a graduate degree in his field of Mechanical Engineering with an interest in Mechatronic system design.

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Gerald Luciano Figueroa University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Gerald L. Figueroa is an artist and graphics designer, currently expanding his skillset while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Gerald has always been engaged in diverse projects which involve creating or designing something. While studying at the university, Gerald runs his own small business named ArteFig, in which he converts his digital art into vinyl stickers which he sells both online and in public spaces. Additionally, he works as an Engineering Graphics Developer for Professor Christopher Papadopoulos, where he applies his skills in digital graphic design to generate images for engineering concept questions that students study with. Whether it be for his small business, or for work, or for anything else, Gerald can spend an entire day drawing or designing on his computer. His ultimate goal is to develop his own print and design studio to provide various graphic design, printing, and small-scale manufacturing services to the community.

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Isamarie Vega Morales University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Isamarie Vega is a recent graduate from Mechanical Engineering in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Isamarie has worked as professor assistant for around two years for Static Mechanics and Dynamic Mechanics. She has been involved in Education from a young age, learning and helping her mother who is a science teacher, and working as student counselor and tutor for classmates. She is currently pursuing a career in the industry of Engineering Design, with plans of continuing graduate studies after gaining more experience. Additionally, Isamarie owns a 3D printer which she uses as a hobby to learn more and develop design and prototyping skills. Her final goal would be to become an engineering educator, able to teach fundamentals in creative ways that adapt to the new generations of students, including new technologies or dynamics into her lessons.

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Abstract

In mechanics, the standard 3-credit, 45-hour course is sufficient to deliver standard lectures with prepared examples and questions. Moreover, it is not only feasible, but preferable, to employ any of a variety of active learning and teaching techniques. Nevertheless, even when active learning is strategically used, students and instructors alike experience pressure to accomplish their respective learning and teaching goals under the constraints of the academic calendar, raising questions as to whether the allocated time is sufficient to enable authentic learning. One way to assess learning progress is to examine the learning cycles through which students attempt, re-think, and re-attempt their work. This article provides data to benchmark the time required to learn key Statics concepts based on results of instruction of approximately 50 students in a Statics class at a public research university during the Fall 2020 semester. Two parallel techniques are employed to foster and understand student learning cycles.

• Through a Mastery Based Learning model, 15 weekly pass/fail “Mastery Tests” are given. Students who do not pass may re-test with a different but similar test on the same topic each week until the semester’s conclusion. The tests are highly structured in that they are well posed and highly focused. For example, some tests focus only on drawing Free Body Diagrams, with no equations or calculations. Other tests focus on writing equilibrium equations from a given Free Body Diagram. Passing the first six tests is required to earn the grade of D; passing the next three for C; the next three for B; and the final three for A. Evaluations include coding of student responses to infer student reasoning. Learning cycles occur as students repeat the same topics, and their progress is assessed by passing rates and by comparing evolving responses to the same test topics.

• Concept Questions that elicit qualitative responses and written explanations are deployed at least weekly. The learning cycle here consists of students answering a question, seeing the overall class results (but without the correct answer), having a chance to explore the question with other students and the instructor, and finally an opportunity to re-answer the same question, perhaps a few minutes or up to a couple days later. Sometimes, that same question is given a third time to encourage further effort or progress.

To date, results from both cycles appear to agree on one important conclusion: the rate of demonstrated learning is quite low. For example, each Mastery Test has a passing rate of 20%-30%, including for students with several repeats. With the Concept Questions, typically no more than half of the students who answered incorrectly change to the correct answer by the time of the final poll. The final article will provide quantitative and qualitative results from each type of cycle, including tracking coded responses on Mastery Tests, written responses on Concept Questions, and cross-comparisons thereof. Additional results will be presented from student surveys. Since the Mastery Tests and Concept Questions follow typical Statics topics, this work has potential to lead to a standardized set of benchmarks and standards for measuring student learning – and its rate – in Statics.

Papadopoulos, C., & Santiago-Román, A. I., & Hillman, E. F., & Figueroa, G. L., & Vega Morales, I. (2021, July), Toward Benchmarking Student Progress in Mechanics: Assessing Learning Cycles through Mastery Learning and Concept Questions Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37918

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