Application of Computer Simulation and Animation (CSA) in Teaching and Learning Engineering Mechanics
2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Proceedings
Moe Tajvidi is a PhD student in engineering education at Utah State University. His BSc and MS degrees are in civil and structural engineering and he has a sixteen year long career experience in structural engineering along with four years of college instruction of both basic and advanced civil engineering courses. In his teaching experience he has been committed to introducing real life engineering problems to the learning environment. The subjects he has taught include engineering mechanics
... tatics, dynamics, and mechanics of material), soil mechanics and foundation engineering. His research areas of interest include: use of computer simulation in engineering education, project-based learning and innovative teaching techniques in interdisciplinary topics. He is also a member of ASCE and ASEE. Prof. Ning Fang, Utah State University Ning Fang is a Professor in the College of Engineering at Utah State University, USA. He has taught a variety of courses at both graduate and undergraduate levels, such as engineering dynamics, metal machining, and design for manufacturing. His areas of interest include computer-assisted instructional technology, curricular reform in engineering education, the modeling and optimization of manufacturing processes, and lean product design. He earned his PhD, MS, and BS degrees in mechanical engineering and is the author of more than 60 technical papers published in refereed international journals and conference proceedings. Abstract Use of computer simulation and animation (CSA) in higher education is growing rapidly and has become a major trend in undergraduate engineering education. This paper conducts a comprehensive and critical literature review regarding the use of CSA as a learning aid to teach engineering mechanics courses. The paper addresses two main topics: (1) pedagogical innovations in the instruction of engineering mechanics, and (2) using CSA as a learning tool in engineering mechanics education. Representative pedagogical innovations are clustered into three categories: (1) altering the engineering mechanics curriculum, (2) active learning strategies, and (3) the application of enhancement resources. Focusing on CSA as an effective enhancement tool, this literature review summarizes the main characteristics of CSA modules that impact student learning: visualization enhancement, interactive features, and straightforwardness. Major theoretical, methodological issues and practical implications as well as the strengths and weaknesses in the published studies within cognitive learning domain are reviewed. The literature review show that although all studies justify the practical effectiveness of CSA modules in improving learning styles, few of them are explicitly associated with a "learning theory" model. The most important advantages of CSA modules cited in the literature are: interactive feature, fostering students' visualization, and enhancing their problem-solving process. It is suggested in this paper that CSA modules cannot be considered as a stand-alone pedagogical resource since they cannot replace conventional classroom instruction.