Spicing up statics lectures with concept questions and 'Around Town' assignments

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Abstract

Concept questions and 'around town' assignments were incorporated into Penn State's introductory statics course during the Fall 2001 semester in an attempt to reinforce key concepts, catch student's attention, provide in-class feedback, and extend textbook work to 'real world' applications without major changes to the current course format. The concept questions are a series of multiple choice, no calculation questions, each addressing a single statics concept. In the lecture recitation format 1 to 2 questions were used in the middle and the end of each lecture loosely following Eric Mazur's Peer Instruction model. By holding up one of 4 colored index cards (provided at the beginning of the semester), the instructors received immediate feedback on the range of student understanding, opening the door to timely discussions targeted to the needs of an individual class. The use of 'think-pair-share' proved quite useful with the concept questions as well. In addition, students were charged with the optional task of looking 'around town' for real world examples related to the specific lecture topics. These student submissions (either hand sketched or digitally photographed) provided a handy recap of the previous topic at the beginning of the next lecture. The one or two most interesting / most relevant applications received a small prize, providing incentive for participation and increasing enthusiasm and interest in the topics among the class. While they don't represent overall course reform, both the concept questions and the 'around town' assignments are easy to implement into any existing statics course to reinforce basic concepts, provide immediate student comprehension feedback and foster enthusiasm among the students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8477-8483
Number of pages7
JournalASEE Annual Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2002

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title = "Spicing up statics lectures with concept questions and 'Around Town' assignments",
abstract = "Concept questions and 'around town' assignments were incorporated into Penn State's introductory statics course during the Fall 2001 semester in an attempt to reinforce key concepts, catch student's attention, provide in-class feedback, and extend textbook work to 'real world' applications without major changes to the current course format. The concept questions are a series of multiple choice, no calculation questions, each addressing a single statics concept. In the lecture recitation format 1 to 2 questions were used in the middle and the end of each lecture loosely following Eric Mazur's Peer Instruction model. By holding up one of 4 colored index cards (provided at the beginning of the semester), the instructors received immediate feedback on the range of student understanding, opening the door to timely discussions targeted to the needs of an individual class. The use of 'think-pair-share' proved quite useful with the concept questions as well. In addition, students were charged with the optional task of looking 'around town' for real world examples related to the specific lecture topics. These student submissions (either hand sketched or digitally photographed) provided a handy recap of the previous topic at the beginning of the next lecture. The one or two most interesting / most relevant applications received a small prize, providing incentive for participation and increasing enthusiasm and interest in the topics among the class. While they don't represent overall course reform, both the concept questions and the 'around town' assignments are easy to implement into any existing statics course to reinforce basic concepts, provide immediate student comprehension feedback and foster enthusiasm among the students.",
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