Active learning strategies to enhance learning in a civil engineering graduate vibrations course
This paper presents a first-semester graduate level course in structural dynamics that utilizes active learning as a mechanism to address 1) higher expectations of learning, 2) varying levels or academic background and preparation, and 3) diverse cultural backgrounds. Active learning strategies used include cooperative learning, both as a full class and in small groups, and problem- and project-based learning experiences (PBL). When the full class cooperates in solving a problem, all students get exposed to the different possible solution strategies for tackling a problem. Small groups allow students who may be hesitant to ask questions in front of the entire class an opportunity to ask questions of their peers or even of the instructor in a more private setting. The use of PBL reinforces the concept that multiple strategies for approaching a problem are possible. Students are asked to produce a specific outcome, such as the development of a reduced order model, but they are not told what method or approach to use for this process. At the end, the students must evaluate the consequences of the choices made during the project process. American Society for Engineering Education, 2010.
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