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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  3. Several consensus reports cite a critical need to dramatically increase the number and diversity of STEM graduates over the next decade. They conclude that a change to evidence-based instructional practices, such as concept-based active learning, is needed. Concept-based active learning involves the use of activity-based pedagogies whose primary objectives are to make students value deep conceptual understanding (instead of only factual knowledge) and then to facilitate their development of that understanding. Concept-based active learning has been shown to increase academic engagement and student achievement, to significantly improve student retention in academic programs, and to reduce the performance gap of underrepresented students. Fostering students' mastery of fundamental concepts is central to real world problem solving, including several elements of engineering practice. Unfortunately, simply proving that these instructional practices are more effective than traditional methods for promoting student learning, for increasing retention in academic programs, and for improving ability in professional practice is not enough to ensure widespread pedagogical change. In fact, the biggest challenge to improving STEM education is not the need to develop more effective instructional practices, but to find ways to get faculty to adopt the evidence-based pedagogies that already exist. In this project we seek to propagate the Concept Warehouse, a technological innovation designed to foster concept-based active learning, into Mechanical Engineering (ME) and to study student learning with this tool in five diverse institutional settings. The Concept Warehouse (CW) is a web-based instructional tool that we developed for Chemical Engineering (ChE) faculty. It houses over 3,500 ConcepTests, which are short questions that can rapidly be deployed to engage students in concept-oriented thinking and/or to assess students’ conceptual knowledge, along with more extensive concept-based active learning tools. The CW has grown rapidly during this project and now has over 1,600 faculty accounts and over 37,000 student users. New ConcepTests were created during the current reporting period; the current numbers of questions for Statics, Dynamics, and Mechanics of Materials are 342, 410, and 41, respectively. A detailed review process is in progress, and will continue through the no-cost extension year, to refine question clarity and to identify types of new questions to fill gaps in content coverage. There have been 497 new faculty accounts created after June 30, 2018, and 3,035 unique students have answered these mechanics questions in the CW. We continue to analyze instructor interviews, focusing on 11 cases, all of whom participated in the CW Community of Practice (CoP). For six participants, we were able to compare use of the CW both before and after participating in professional development activities (workshops and/or a community or practice). Interview results have been coded and are currently being analyzed. To examine student learning, we recruited faculty to participate in deploying four common questions in both statics and dynamics. In statics, each instructor agreed to deploy the same four questions (one each for Rigid Body Equilibrium, Trusses, Frames, and Friction) among their overall deployments of the CW. In addition to answering the question, students were also asked to provide a written explanation to explain their reasoning, to rate the confidence of their answers, and to rate the degree to which the questions were clear and promoted deep thinking. The analysis to date has resulted in a Work-In-Progress paper presented at ASEE 2022, reporting a cross-case comparison of two instructors and a Work-In-Progress paper to be presented at ASEE 2023 analyzing students’ metacognitive reflections of concept questions. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  4. Several consensus reports cite a critical need to dramatically increase the number and diversity of STEM graduates over the next decade. They conclude that a change to evidence-based instructional practices, such as concept-based active learning, is needed. Concept-based active learning involves the use of activity-based pedagogies whose primary objectives are to make students value deep conceptual understanding (instead of only factual knowledge) and then to facilitate their development of that understanding. Concept-based active learning has been shown to increase academic engagement and student achievement, to significantly improve student retention in academic programs, and to reduce the performance gap of underrepresented students. Fostering students' mastery of fundamental concepts is central to real world problem solving, including several elements of engineering practice. Unfortunately, simply proving that these instructional practices are more effective than traditional methods is not enough to ensure widespread pedagogical change. In fact, the biggest challenge to improving STEM education is not the need to develop more effective instructional practices, but to find ways to get faculty to adopt the evidence-based pedagogies that already exist. 
    more » « less