Title

Reaching Today's Learners by Engaging Undergraduates in Editing a New Textbook

Document Type

Presentation

Presentation Date

2-2014

Conference Name

Fort Wayne Teaching Conference

Conference Location

Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne

Peer Review

Yes

Abstract

Strength of Materials is the hardest course in the first two years of the Mechanical, Civil, and Architectural Engineering Technology programs at IPFW consequently it has the highest drop and fail rate (between 18% and 30% per semester). This paper describes the process for creating a new textbook designed to help students learn better and pass the course in larger numbers. The textbook is free, available online as a 2 MB pdf file. This paper also describes a continuous improvement process. While commercially-produced textbooks are updated once every four to ten years, the new textbook is updated every semester based on student feedback. The quality and usefulness of the feedback is discussed. Feedback must be both specific and actionable: “this chapter is confusing” does not meet these criteria, whereas “I don't understand how to solve the moment in Example 6, page 45” meets both criteria. A student may not know what to change, but can easily identify the confusing parts of a text.

Keywords

Strength of materials, textbook, editing

Disciplines

Applied Mechanics

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