Supplemental learning tools for statics and strength of materials

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Wouldn't it be great to have one more day in statics to try an interactive problem with students during class on something they struggle with (like 3D vectors and moments) without having to sacrifice by doing less example problems? Or have you ever wished your students would come to class at the start of a new unit (like stress transformations) having looked at the topic and with questions based on what they don't initially understand? We may be able to offer some help! Tools have been developed to support learning in statics and strength of materials courses. The intent of the tools is to supplement lectures, textbook, and homework. The tools include (i) two types of videos (concepts and examples) created using Camtasia software and (ii) multiple choice practice problems based on the FE Exam. The concept-based videos are multi-part modules explaining the key aspects of a core course topic, for example stress transformation. Each part of the video is limited to six minutes in an attempt to maintain the viewer's attention and contains an activity to engage the students. The purpose of each module is to ease, not replace, the burden of concept development in class so that more class time can be spent actively applying the concept, interacting with classmates and the instructor. Students can watch a video prior to class as a preview, and then refer back to it when solving homework problems, and preparing for an exam. A consistent theme between the various parts of the video module is maintained by three different instructor narrators. While this was challenging for production, it should increase the likelihood of adoption by engineering mechanics educators with various instructional preferences. The example problem videos are application exercises worked out on a tablet PC where the video captures the pen strokes of the solution as an instructor's voice-over recording explains the thought process involved in each step. These problems can be started in class as an interactive activity without the burden of having to complete the problem during class. After starting the problem in groups, students can be assigned to complete the problem out of class then access the video solution to see if they completed the problem correctly. Perhaps the most valuable feature of these videos is that students can easily play them back and fast-forward them to specific points of interest. The videos themselves become reusable learning objects. In addition to the two types of videos, multiple-choice problems similar to Fundamentals in Engineering exam problems have been developed in spreadsheet form and are currently being implemented within our course management system. Distracter answers are provided based on common errors, allowing the instructor to set up feedback to the student identifying the error made if a student selects an incorrect answer choice. These problems can be used as out-of-class quizzes, supplemental problems, review problems for exams, or for collaborative learning in class. Both types of learning support tools (videos and multiple choice problems) are being employed for the first time in two courses on statics and strength of materials during the Fall 2010 semester. This paper will present details of the development of the tools as well as evaluation of assessments acquired during use and at the end of the semester.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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