Documentation:Learning Principles & Strategies/Case Study Engineering Science/Course Summary
Context: MECH 221 is a large course (12 credits) that integrates various engineering subjects, mathematics and elements of professional practice. One of the components I have taught in this course for many years is a series of 16 optional preparatory lectures reviewing fundamental math and physics concepts from first year.
What do students need to learn? One specific type of problem that students are asked to solve involves determining the forces required to support a rigid structure when a load is distributed on that structure. Addressing the problem involves a combination of applying basic first year engineering concepts of static equilibrium and integral calculus, each covered extensively in their own separate physics and math courses.
What has been your approach to teaching? The students have all the background they need to solve these problems. The difficulty of the static equilibrium and integral calculus components of the problems are trivial compared to the difficulty of problems they solve in first year. Yet when I first starting posing such problems in my classes, I met with a sea of blank faces. The class didn’t know where to start. Inviting students to “talk to your neighbor” to try to reason through the problem or begin to set it up had little benefit. The students were lost.
What approach are you experimenting with?
What are students learning?
What are you learning?