From Tootsie Rolls to Composites: Assessing a Spectrum of Active Learning Activities in Engineering Mechanics
AIR FORCE ACADEMY COLORADO SPRINGS CO INST FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS
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The introduction of active learning exercises into a traditional lecture has been shown to improve students learning. Hands-on learning opportunities in labs and projects provide are additional tools in the active learning toolbox. This paper presents a series of innovative hands-on active learning activities for mechanics of materials topics. These activities are based on a Methodology for Developing Hands-on Active Learning Activities, a systematic approach for efficient and effective activity development. The activities are being evaluated at three institutions of higher learning Austin Community College, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the University of Texas at Austin. Seven of the 28 activities have been evaluated to date. Evaluation consists of a variety of measures, including student opinion surveys, focus groups, pre-post activity quizzes, exam questions, and a concept inventory. In addition, information on demography and student learning styles was collected, and Myers-Briggs personality type was assessed. This information was correlated to the student evaluation measures. Data from over 150 students are summarized and discussed. The results show that, in general, students are excited about doing hands-on activities during lectures, and they believe that the activities enhance their learning. While these general findings exist, students learning style, personality type, and perception of performance in the class all influence their opinions of the activities and will be measured further in future activity development and evaluation.
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