Collaboratively Developing Curricular Materials with Mechanics of Materials Instructors
The typical model of a researcher designing a solution to a problem, and afterward attempting to promote that solution to instructors has proven ineffective in engineering education, largely because the needs, perceptions and contexts of potential adopters cannot be adequately addressed by superficial revisions to an existing product. New models must be tested to incorporate researchers and practitioners in the curriculum development process.
The overarching objective of this project is to facilitate broad development and adoption of curricular materails focused on conceptual change that are co-developed with teachers and researchers. This goal will be accomplished through the long term interactions between the research team and a group of about 20 instructors to develop shared meanings related to curriculum development. The specific goals are: Goal 1 (Adoptability) – Encourage the broad adoption of materials developed by instructors who teach mechanics of materials by incorporating the perspectives of potential users in the development process. Goal 2 (Effectiveness) – Ensure the effectiveness of the developed materials by utilizing existing research and conducting new research on student conceptual understanding and the materials’ effectiveness in improving it.
This project will impact instructors by working collaboratively with a large cohort of instructors over three years to iteratively develop and test research based curricular materials that are adoptable by a broad audience. The role of this project is to provide a conduit through which previous and ongoing research and theories can be shared with participating instructors, and to facilitate the process of interpreting that research while developing, implementing and evaluating curricular materials. Collaboration across the entire process means that the produced curricular materials will benefit from the input of a number of experienced educators as well as the researchers themselves. The effectiveness of the designed materials will be supported by previous research, and confirmed with ongoing assessment and research. Their effectiveness compared to other pedagogy will be investigated by assessing the changes in studentsﾒ conceptual understandings in the participantsﾒ courses before they implement the materials as well as after.
(1) Digitally and physically disseminated curricular materials with supporting materials that can be
implemented by any instructor to increase their studentsﾒ conceptual understanding of mechanics of
(2) Adoption of the designed materials in at least 15 institutions, reaching thousands of undergraduate
engineering students each year;
(3) Publication and presentations of the curricular materials including seminars in at least 10 institutions;
(4) An established researcher/instructor community that will develop, promote and disseminate future
The broader impacts of this project have teaching, research, and retention implications. Fundamentally, the work proposed here is an effort to improve the learning experience of engineering students. By drawing on a sample of students drawn from diverse backgrounds and educational contexts,
these efforts will create curricular materials that are better suited to a diverse range of individuals. A more comfortable learning environment could promote both retention and recruitment of underrepresented groups in engineering. The establishment of productive, collaborative professional relationships between researchers and instructors (including those at community colleges) provides a structure for truly transformational applications of research to practice in engineering education. Finally, improvements to the pedagogy of mechanics of materials have the potential to positively impact nearly every engineering student. The dissemination of the products of this research will be augmented beyond
traditional publishing and presenting, and will therefore have a greater likelihood of reaching students. Curricular materials designed to effect conceptual change will result in more able and diverse graduating engineers.
This project will advance understanding and promote learning by developing research-based materials that are adopted by a large cohort of experienced engineering educators; establishing a strong partnership between the PIﾒs (educational researchers) and participants (educators); and co-developing, adapting and disseminating an effective model for improving conceptual understanding. Educational
infrastructure will be enhanced through this newly developed partnership. Dissemination is foundational to this project and will be enhanced through a specific goal of all participants increasing the number of adopters throughout the project. Curricular materials will be made available in online and written form and actively disseminated at local, regional and national conferences focused on teaching and research.
No unexpected challenges.
Grace Panther, Devlin Montfort, Shane Brown (2015). Building Collaborations through Storytelling while Revising Mechanics of Materials Curriculum for Implementation. Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference. Geelong, Australia.
Grace Panther, Devlin Montfort, Shane Brown (2015). Instructor Concerns and Use of Resources in the Development and Use of Course Materials. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference. Seattle, WA.
Devlin Montfort, Shane Brown, Charles Riley, Lucianna Barosso, Jennifer Light (2015). Lessons Learned from Collaborative Development of Research-Based Course Materials. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference. Seattle, WA.
Grace Panther, Devlin Montfort, Shane Brown (2015). The Role of Storytelling in the Co-development of Mechanics Course Materials. Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference. Geelong, Australia.