Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference & Exposition

Conference Location

Atlanta, GA

Source of Publication

ASEE Conference Proceedings




Strength of Materials is the hardest course in the first two years of the Mechanical, Civil, and Architectural Engineering Technology programs at Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW); consequently it has the highest drop and fail rate (between 18% and 30% per semester). A previous ASEE paper described 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 focuses on continuous improvement of the textbook. While commercially-produced textbooks are updated once every four to ten years, the new textbook is updated every semester based on student feedback. In the first semester of the new textbook's use, feedback was optional and worth extra credit points. Unfortunately, only the most desperate students participated, and the quality of the responses was inadequate. Subsequently, feedback was incorporated into the homework assignments as a course requirement, with better than 90% participation. 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.

This paper presents an analysis of the quality and quantity of feedback responses, with examples of positive effects on the textbook over the past three semesters. Although the topic of the book is Strength of Materials, this paper discusses techniques that can be applied to a variety of undergraduate engineering textbook topics.


textbook, strength of materials, editing


Construction Engineering and Management | Manufacturing