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Utilizing a MOOC to Assess Student Understanding of Fundamental Principals in Combined Static Loading


Wingate, K., Kadel, R.S., & Madden, A.G. (2017). Utilizing a MOOC to Assess Student Understanding of Fundamental Principals in Combined Static Loading. Conference Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, June 27, 2017, Columbus, Ohio.

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This research effort utilizes a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to develop high quality assessments testing student knowledge of fundamental concepts in combined static loading. A MOOC is an ideal platform for assessment development as it has a large sample size of diverse students, begins a new session every four weeks, and stores copious amounts of data on student performance. This MOOC first covers material selection, then teaches static loading, and finally examines fatigue failure theories. In this study, subject experts identify five fundamental concepts critical to understanding combined static loading. A pre-quiz tests each of these principles individually and is given prior to any instruction on combined static loading. A post quiz assessing each of these concepts individually, as well as a student’s ability to combine the concepts is given after two weeks of instruction. Difficulty indices and discrimination scores for pre-and post- quiz questions are calculated to determine which concepts are the most difficult, and which concepts best discriminate between high- and low-performing students. It is found that in combined static loading cases, students are easily able to determine the cross sectional area to utilize when calculating an axial stress, but struggle to determine the direction stresses act in or identify all of the types of stresses present at a point. Preliminary analysis suggests students who are able to identify the correct cross sectional area to calculate stresses with have a much higher final course grade than students who are not able to do this. Interestingly, a student's ability to grasp a fundamental concept did not seem to have a huge impact on whether or not they completed the MOOC.