Our research and development program in engineering learning and cognition includes:
- Research to better understand how students learn (or do not learn) basic engineering subjects
- Development of educational materials that will help students achieve the necessary, fundamental understanding of engineering subjects
Several of these efforts have lead to products that are freely available via the web and potentially of interest to a wide range of engineering instructors.
Concept Assessment Tool for Statics: This test measures the ability of a student to use fundamental concepts of Statics to answer questions. The test consists of 27 multiple-choice questions that involve conceptual reasoning, but no significant computation. Questions comprise 8 distinct concepts, including free body diagrams, equilibrium, static equivalence, and the directions of forces between contacting or connected bodies. Instructors can arrange for their students to take the test on the web or in class with pencil and paper. Development of this test was funded by the National Science Foundation.
miniFEA: Students can learn the basic concepts of FEA with this simple, web-based tutorial, developed under a grant from the National Science Foundation. The freely-available program helps students learn mechanics of materials and introduces them to a technology that is important in contemporary engineering practice.
OLI Engineering Statics: This is a freely-available, highly interactive web-based Statics course co-authored by Anna Dollár and Paul Steif. The course can be used by individual learners, and can be integrated into an instructor-led course. Students’ learning activities can then be visible to the instructor who can leverage this knowledge to improve classroom instruction. Development of this course is currently funded by the National Science Foundation.