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Transfer Effects of Challenge-Based Lessons in an Undergraduate Dynamics Course

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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

Teaching Dynamics

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Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1273.1 - 24.1273.16



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Paper Authors

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Matthew D. Lovell P.E. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Sean P. Brophy Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Transfer effects of challenge-based lessons in an undergraduate dynamics courseChallenge based instruction, a method of instruction where course content is framed around and driven bya complex problem or set of problems, requires learners to continually evaluate posed challenges based onwhat they know and refine this understanding through a series of formal learning experiences. A versionof challenge-based learning has been used in an introductory course of dynamics to teach kinetics andkinematics to sophomores in a civil engineering department at [SCHOOL NAME]. As an introduction tospecific instructional sequences, students were posed a challenge to frame the remaining lectures for thattopic. Once the challenge was introduced and before any formal instruction, students were asked togenerate ideas about the immediate problems they needed to solve and to generate ideas about potentialsolutions. In addition, they were asked to generate questions about what more they needed to learn inorder to better solve the problem. Next, students engaged in a series of lectures, discussions and problemsolving exercises to explore the concepts associated with answering the challenge. At the end of theinstructional sequence, students were asked to submit their solution to the initial challenge. An initialstudy of this approach compared exam question scores between students of challenge based instructionand traditional lecture and homework problems sets. Results showed the challenge based studentsoutperformed the prior cohort of students on exam questions similar to those found in the textbook.Therefore, the exam questions were more focused on recall of basic concepts and did not require the samelevel of processing as the challenges required of students. In this second study, additional questions wereadded to the exams to better align with the challenges. Initial analysis of the data indicates that studentsincrease their ability to generate ideas and questions using concepts and principles applied in the earlierchallenges. The analysis of results also helps describe the limits of students’ conceptual understanding ofthe governing principles and how these limits diminish with time. Therefore, students are on a learningprogress that increases their potential for generalizing their knowledge which will increase their potentialto use it in less familiar context. The results of this study will be interesting to instructors andresearchers involved in the teaching and learning of dynamics. This paper provides an overview of thefundamental concepts covered by the modules, common challenges to learning dynamics and a qualitativeanalysis of students work on the challenge statements and exam questions.

Lovell, M. D., & Brophy, S. P. (2014, June), Transfer Effects of Challenge-Based Lessons in an Undergraduate Dynamics Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23206

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