Students' access to, and knowledge of material databases can have an enhanced effect on the teaching of materials to engineering students. Most engineering subjects taught at tertiary level are usually mathematically based and students are normally familiarised with lecture material via mathematically based tutorial problem solving. Engineering Materials as taught at Chisholm is mainly non-mathematical and, as such, easy to set mathematically based tutorial problems are not generally applicable for reinforcing theory.
It is proposed that computerised materials databases can be used in a variety of ways to both reinforce lecture theory and acquaint students with the vast spectrum of material property data available. In fact, it can be argued that the teaching of engineering materials cannot be effectively performed without students having sufficient access to materials databases. To develop an appreciation of the applications of the theoretical concepts developed in Engineering Materials lectures, students need the feedback associated with materials databases.
Selection of a material to make an axle. The axle is to have a specified strength.Even for this apparently simple exercise, a variety of tasks are required of the student. Some of these tasks are:
That is, they are impressed with the presentation, feel it is part of the real world as opposed to the unreal world of the academic classroom and subsequently take more notice of it. It may be, of course, that in being allowed to work at their own pace, as opposed to keeping up with the delivery of lecture material, they are in a much better position to assimilate and query the data being presented to them. Some students do remember or have studied their lecture notes and the presentation of the computerised data helps to reinforce their knowledge.
The above is a simple example of a material selection problem and the level of difficulty of the problems set may be varied to suit the standard expected of the student.
A material is required for the manufacture of a light weight complicated section. The light weight section is to operate as a sliding mechanism at a variety of temperatures.The student is required to translate the above functional requirements into the following material property requirements
Students can be given Australian or International standards and be asked to find equivalent alloys.
Students are given a broad outline in lectures of the material properties involved in the database and are then expected, through library research etc., to obtain the specific knowledge required to input suitable materials to the programme. For example, after a series of lectures on stainless steels, students would need to consider the chemical composition of the steels in the data base to rank them in order of corrosion resistance. Amongst other properties, the programme will ask for a steel having a certain minimum corrosion resistance. Students receive a score for their overall game performance and this score is recorded against their name on the floppy disc containing the programme.
At the end of the exercise the disc is returned to the office and the student's scores are recorded. Suitable encrypting of scores, etc, prevent any tampering with results. Students seem to go out of their way to complete the exercises and may be motivated by the need to see a score recorded against their name on the floppy disc which is to be returned to the office. A more detailed description of this and other similar programmes has been given elsewhere (Phelan, 1989).
Phelan, D. (1989). Using databanks in computer assisted learning. In J. Hones and M. Horsburgh (Eds.), Research and Development in Higher Education, Vol 8. Sydney: HERDSA.
|Please cite as: Phelan, D. (1990). Computerised out-of-class exercises. In J. G. Hedberg, J. Steele and M. Mooney (Eds), Converging Technologies: Selected papers from EdTech'90, 27-29. Canberra: AJET Publications. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/edtech90/phelan.html|