A new paradigm in teaching large engineering mechanics courses
This study investigated the role of a new paradigm in teaching large introductory fundamental engineering mechanics courses that combines student-centered learning and supplemental student resources. The sample consisted of close to 5000 engineering students from Iowa State University.
Demographic characteristics in the study included students' major, gender, performance in high school, and achievement and aptitude tests scores. Results of the study overwhelmingly showed that not only is there a difference between a class taught passively using the teacher-centered pedagogy and a class taught actively using the student-centered pedagogy, but also that the usage of the variety of student-centered pedagogies in statics of engineering is a significant predictor in student performance in mechanics of materials.
The principal focus of this work was to determine if the new paradigm was successful in improving student understanding of course concepts in statics of engineering. After evaluating the effects of several variables on students' academic success, the results may provide important information for both faculty and researchers and present a convincing argument to those faculty interested in a reform but hesitant to abandon conventional teaching practices. By promoting a new paradigm, the potential for improving understanding of engineering fundamentals on a larger scale may be realized.