Comprehensive course redesign: Introduction to the mechanics of materials Conference Paper uri icon


  • Convergence of multiple patterns necessitates significant new directions in redesigning and teaching courses in the area of solid mechanics for undergraduate engineering students. • Growing applications of polymeric, biological, and geological materials • Promising approaches to teaching • Key differences in behaviors of polymers and biological materials when compared with traditional engineering materials like steel, concrete, and wood • Lack of understanding of more than one measure of stress and strain and their Relationships to different failure criteria. • Packed Courses Together, these patterns require that the mechanics community identify and advocate new approaches to teaching undergraduate solid mechanics. New approaches to course design and teaching are required to address these multiple challenges. One opportunity for course redesign is the mechanics of materials course taken by sophomore or junior mechanical engineering students, which is a pivotal course in undergraduate curricula for mechanical engineering students. In redesigning the course, the faculty member that redesigned the course identified a set of learning outcomes by focusing on core ideas for the course and then used Bloom's taxonomy to articulate three different levels of achievement: • Level of Achievement • Calculate/identify • Apply/analyze • Evaluate/design • Core Course Ideas • Functional decomposition to craft design requirements for mechanical components • Concept of failure and material transitions (yielding, fracture, buckling) • Stress • Strain • Stress versus strain behavior (elasticity) and stress versus time and strain versus time (viscoelasticity) Multi-axial loading behavior • Behavior of specific common geometries (e.g., beams, thin wall objects) With learning outcomes established, the faculty member that taught course reorganized the course material around a set of five prototypical problems. For each problem, the faculty member presents a scenario within the context of a realistic design challenge, ambiguous desired outcomes, and a vague collection of constraints. Then, students offer ideas on how to approach defining a problem, generating alternatives, and identifying key mechanics concepts that will play a role in the solution. Assessment is based on quizzes, in-class examinations, in-class presentation of mechanics concepts by student teams, and a final examination. On quizzes and exams, each question corresponds to a core course idea and a level of achievement. Course grades are assigned based on patterns of demonstrated learning with respect to a table of core course ideas and levels of achievement. For example, an ?A• could be earned if the student demonstrates level 3 achievement (evaluate/design) for at least four core course ideas. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.

author list (cited authors)

  • Froyd, J. E., Schwartz, C. J., & Rajagopal, K. R.

publication date

  • January 2011