June 16, 2002
June 16, 2002
June 19, 2002
7.1289.1 - 7.1289.18
Main Menu Session 1566
Utilization of the Learning Cycle and Design of Experiments to Enhance Understanding of Mechanical Engineering Concepts
John S. Brader, Jed S. Lyons
Department of Mechanical Engineering - University of South Carolina
Abstract Through design of experiments, as part of an increasingly difficult series of laboratory exercises, students gain a greater understanding of the relevant engineering theory. This paper outlines a three part laboratory experience specifically designed to introduce freshmen to the variety of engineering disciplines. The three experiments increase in difficulty as the laboratory handouts become increasingly vague. The student’s responsibility for their own learning is steadily increased through the reduction of detail associated with the laboratory handout. Ultimately, the students are provided only background theory and are required to design their own experiment and analysis to arrive at the required results. As described in education instruction theory, students who have a greater personal need for the knowledge are more apt to understand the information. This paper identifies the increased understanding of theory gained by students who personally created experiments and analysis regimes.
Introduction As with many freshmen students, their understanding of their chosen major is limited to campus tours and some fragmented experiences. Engineering students are especially prone to have misconceptions about their impending four year experience; therefore, the University of South Carolina has initiated an “Introduction to Engineering” class for incoming freshmen. One of the primary goals of the class is to provide an overview of some introductory engineering concepts. An effective means of introducing complex concepts is through the use of experimental activities. Recently, these laboratory experiences, and especially the provided information, has been critically examined.
The laboratory handouts have been altered to take advantage of a proven educational method that has shown a student’s understanding increases as the information becomes more personally meaningful. New engineering concepts are difficult to make personally meaningful; therefore, by requiring the students to become increasingly responsible for their learning, the theory becomes a personally needed aspect of their successful completion of the activity. This is in contrast to many traditional engineering laboratory experiences, in which, the theory, experimental procedure, and analysis expectations are outlined in great detail for the student.
The three laboratories focus on Statics and Mechanics of Materials, Fluid Dynamics, and Electric Circuit Theory. As the semester progresses, the students are provided less information at the beginning of their laboratory sessions and, in turn, are responsible for more of their learning.
Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education
Brader, J., & Lyons, J. (2002, June), Utilization Of The Learning Cycle And Design Of Experiments To Enhance Understanding Of Mechanical Engineering Concepts Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11104
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