Economic and Educational Reform of a Large Engineering Mechanics Course
AuthorHenderson, Callie Rose
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Economic and curricular reforms were implemented in an engineering mechanics course, ME 242: Dynamics, at the University of Nevada, Reno. The reforms implemented included online homework, online examples, online videos, an online lecture, and in-class activities. All of the curricular changes were aimed at reducing the cost of instruction while simultaneously mitigating the negative impacts on student learning associated with large class sizes. Cumulatively, the cost of the reforms was estimated at $7,393. However, these initial costs will be recuperated in subsequent years by the elimination of the need for a teaching assistant and less time input required by the professor. The payback period was determined to be within the range of .5 to 3.5 years, depending on the economic assumptions made. Student learning was measured directly through the use of a final exam (which was identical to the previous course offering), and homework grades. Student learning was measured indirectly through the use of course surveys and evaluations. It was found that the student scores on the final exam were significantly higher in 2010 with an average of 62% as compared to 2009 with an average of 57% (p = .019). It was also found that the homework grades were higher in 2010 with an average of 92% as compared to 2009 with an average of 81% ( p = .000). These quantitative results suggest that learning outcomes were improved by the reforms. Qualitatively, the surveys indicated that the students appreciated the new teaching methods and media.