Problem Students need to prepare to deal with unfamiliar situations in their professional life Educators Need to instill the responsibility for learning in students Make them capable of thinking on their own and making effective decisions How do we make sure that students have the ability to engage in life long learning (ABET requirement)? It is very difficult, if not impossible to measure the outcome of an attempt to make life-long learners out of civil engineering students.
Approach Make students learn to learn Make them self-learners, and thus give them a critical skill for becoming life long learners. Kolb’s learning cycle - ideal framework for building a learning based course/experience/curriculum that can teach students how to learn. Develop an environment which will provide them a complete learning experience through their active participation. Experience Reflection Conceptualization Experimentation Kolb cycle of learning
Need for qualified civil engineers Need for life long learning Need for self- learning Initiate self-learningProvide learning to learn course Use Kolb’s cycle Provide specific elements of Kolb’s cycle; use currently used laboratory and field-work based approaches Adapt best practices, and modify elements to make the presentation feasible in seven-week term course Prepare course materials, presentation plan, and assessment plan Implement - Present course, assess results and submit report with conclusions and recommendations Current Needs Proposed Approach Work Needed Scope of work
ElementTimeContent of SessionMode Concrete Experience Week 1 Virtual tour of instrumented pavement section, material properties, data from field instruments. Observe pavement layers, instruments, data acquisition server, typical data, effect of load and environment on pavement response data. Observe typical laboratory tests and data. ReflectionWeeks 2 and 3 Discussion of questions related to effect of load and environmental factors affecting pavement performance Students initiate and moderate a discussion with a simultaneous view of pavement section and data from instrumentation Abstract Conceptual -ization Weeks 4 and 5 Explanation of pavement response under load and environment, different material properties, design principles and procedures Observe animated schematics and run computer aided pavement analysis Active Experiment -ation Weeks 6 and 7 Comparison of predicted and actual pavement response. Use in-place stress and strain/deflection measurements to determine effect of traffic and environment on response of pavement structure, predict response and compare predicted response with response obtained form field instruments. Run parametric studies. Work in teams on parametric studies. Write, submit and present research paper. Provide background, critical analysis of effect of traffic and environmental conditions, comparison of predicted and observed responses, any differences and explanation, and conclusions.
Proposed instrumented pavement section for experience Outside lane Outside tires/wheel path 4 inch 12 inch 3 SOPT PRESSURE TRANSDUCERS SECTION 1 TEMPERATURE GAUGES MOISTURE GAUGES HMA BASE/ SUBBASE SUBGRADE Partner: Maine DOT
Problem in Course Delay in pavement construction due to timing and budget The plan for using the newly constructed section for the virtual tour had to be abandoned. Course in Spring 2005 consisted of all the four elements of Kolb's cycle The data was obtained instead from instruments installed in a pavement slab subjected to loading and testing under different conditions with a vehicle simulator in the WPI Pavement Research Laboratory.
One of the four loading tires MMLS 3 on instrumented slab, connected to data acquisition system Data from strain gauge at the bottom of the slab Pavement Slab and Model Mobile Load Simulator, Testing conducted at Different speeds and Temperature compression tension Strain gauges in pavement slab Strain gauge Schematic of MMLS 3 (lateral side view)
Classroom set-up Arrange the classroom to allow the demonstration of both actual data as well as predicted data at the same time. A classroom was equipped with a computer and projection console, a wide screen plasma monitor and a projection system Animations were developed to illustrate the key concepts in pavement engineering.
Conclusions Based on pre and post course surveys: The most important contribution of this course was towards helping the students to learn to think and reason. Improved self-learning capabilities and attitude. Improved their skills on expressing their thoughts clearly through speaking/discussion and writing. The students have gained experience in laboratory data acquisition, experimentation and analysis. The teacher has gained teaching skills and experience.
Conclusions Learning to think and reason and skills for clear articulation are necessary for becoming life long learners - the course has demonstrated, in a small way, the benefit of using Kolb cycle.
1.Through collaborative research, that has followed this project, WPI, University of Maine and Maine Department of Transportation have started a significant amount of funded research on pavement analysis on the basis of data from in-place instruments. 2.This research is contributing to education of two MS students, one each at WPI and University of Maine at present, with the potential of supporting another two in the near future. Indirect benefits
Problem Our current method of education has pretty much remained the same for decades Because the lecture approach is personable and effective and Because it is the most convenient method of presenting information to a large number of individuals simultaneously. The traditional system enforces certain rules such as being physically present at a pre- decided place and time to attend a lecture.
Problem While there is no real substitute for face to face teaching, this does not always ensure that the student is mentally present in the class. Because of many uncontrollable reasons, students can “miss” part of a lecture. Quite often many students do not request the instructor to repeat, and this situation creates specific “knowledge gaps” in student minds.
Problem Since each lecture dwells on several subtopics, students do not get enough time to stop and think and reflect on each sub topic before moving on to the next one. Also, the pace of learning is dictated by the timing and sequence of the lectures. If possible, exploration of different concepts at his or her own pace would allow the students to learn more, and learn more effectively than in lectures - ability of concept retention would increase dramatically.
Approach Need to supplement classroom lectures with lecture materials that can be used outside the classroom. Digital recordings of lectures, complete with multimedia items, are an attractive option for meeting this need. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of digital video lectures in two existing civil engineering courses at WPI.
Scope Preparation and use of digital videos for each and every lecture for two seven-week courses, conducting a survey for each course, and analysis of the survey and digital video use data. Selected two existing courses in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. CE 3054 – Asphalt Technology, and CE 3051 – Introduction to Pavement Materials, Design and Management.
Courses CE3054 is a laboratory-based course, which introduces the field of design, construction and management of asphalt pavements CE3051 provides an introduction to concepts required for design, construction and management of pavements. 7 week terms/every day class - students need to stay concentrated and focused throughout the term. There is less opportunity for “making up” if a student falls behind. Each lecture period generally consists of a combination of “talk,” video, animation, slides and use of specific software - recorded as digital videos - CAMTASIA software
Video of lectures The videos consisted of screenshots of Microsoft PowerPoint files, interspersed with relevant images, MS Word and Excel documents, movies and FLASH animations. The actual recording involved reviewing the slides/items on the desktop and dubbing “voice over” through a microphone. After initial saving, the AVI files were converted to windows media viewer (wmv) files, and posted in “MyWPI” - which is WPI's online information and learning portal.
Videos of lectures Recording of each 50 minute lecture required a preparation time of at least one to two hours. Creating the videos was fairly simple, The software also allows one to pause recording, if needed, and start back. It is advisable to leave aside a quiet and undisturbed two hour period for recording each 50-minute lecture.
Video of lecture Students had access to the files throughout the terms Had the choice of either viewing them through the windows media player as a streamed file or viewing them after downloading and saving them onto their computers. The instructor requested the students to go through the videos at least before each class, and in some cases before a set of classes on a specific topic. The students were also encouraged to view the videos at their own pace, whenever they had time, to develop interest in the courses, and also before examinations to refresh their minds.
Videos of lectures Preparation and recording time is significant Instructor gets a chance to do a good job of presenting everything together in a very coherent and complete fashion – something that is often not possible (to the same extent) in an actual classroom. Once prepared, the lecture can be made available 24 hours a day – any day, during the term. The students can actually “view and hear” these lectures, for example for finding something that they missed in the class, and hence get the most out of every lecture.
Assessment of digital video use End-of-course surveys targeted at assessing Viewing habits Motivation for viewing, and Perceptions of usefulness of the videos Feedback on video quality Suggestions for modifications to the videos.
Video and use The quality of the videos seems to have been good. Some students indicated the videos were too long and expressed a desire for shorter videos. Each student in both courses utilized the videos to some extent, with half of all students viewing at least almost all of the videos. Data indicate that the videos were useful to the students for purposes of review. While half of all students viewed the videos before class, almost all students viewed the videos after class, and half of the students indicated that they reviewed video segments more than one time.
Assessment of digital video use For both courses combined, all students watched the videos in response to advice from the course professor, three-fourths of the students believed that watching the videos would help them understand the material better, and two-thirds of the students believed that watching the videos would help them to prepare for the exam. An examination of survey responses for both course combined revealed that the videos were useful in terms of making the course material clearer and in terms of completing course assignments. Survey respondents also believed that future students in these courses would benefit from using the videos. Specifically, students responded as follows:
Assessment of digital video use Students found the videos useful and almost all indicated that the videos helped to make course material clearer. Compared to written materials, over three-fourths of the students found the videos at least as helpful in their attempts to understand the course material. Half of the students found the videos at least as helpful in their attempts to understand the course material and half found them less helpful compared to one-on-one time with the instructor. Over half of the students indicated that the videos were helpful in completing course assignments. All indicated that future students would benefit from using the videos.
Conclusions In general, the performance of the students in these courses was better than students in these same courses in the previous years, particularly with respect to understanding of fundamental concepts. The impacts were made, most probably, on understanding basic concepts through the use of animations. The instructor had actually fewer requests for explaining fundamental concepts and more requests to work out example problems and discuss problem solving techniques.
Conclusions It should be noted that this impact is felt more at a school like WPI, where a typical term runs for only seven weeks, and classes are held everyday. The videos, most likely, give the students a chance to reflect on the live lecture, and then “revisit” the lectures to clarify any confusion or missed topics.
Cost and Benefit The “cost” is in terms of the time invested by the instructor. The creation of all the videos for each class took approximately 40 hours. The “benefit” was in mostly in terms of improved understanding of concepts and increase in confidence of students. The increased understanding did also help the students to perform better in laboratory experiments (for one course). The videos did also (indirectly) help in creating interest among students, and in making them “revisit” concepts and topics more often than in courses without the videos.
Cost and Benefit The “benefit” was also partly for the instructor, in the sense that he got an opportunity to organize the different types of teaching aides outside the class and prepare a more complete and through presentation than what is possible in the class. Based on the feedback from students, at this time it is perhaps a good idea to pursue this technique and evaluate it in more detail in the near future. This is a “risk” that is worth taking for the instructor, since, if it is not pursued further, when it should have been, the “risk” of loss will be entirely for the students.
Major Conclusions Digital video lectures of satisfactory quality can be prepared within a reasonable amount of time A significant percentage of students in any class can be expected to actually use the digital video lectures. The digital video lectures are perceived as helpful materials for understanding and getting prepared for examinations. The digital video lectures should not be used as “stand-alone” materials Students prefer short to-the-point videos,
Recommendation Try out in classes with larger number Share these videos with other instructors to teach specific topics in different courses. Distribute these videos to colleagues within your department or at other universities
Acknowledgements The authors thank the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their financial assistance through the following project: 0310513 - CCLI: Concrete Experience with Civil Engineering: Using Kolb's Cycle to Develop Skills for Life Long Learning. The authors are also grateful to the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the Academic Technology Center (ATC) at WPI, as well as the Maine Department of Transportation for their help in conducting this project. This project would not have been possible without the help of Professor Judith Miller.