Developing a New Tool to Implement Computer-Supported Active Learning Strategies in the Engineering Classroom

04/20/2021
by   Juan M. Tizón, et al.
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Successful implementation of active learning strategies in the engineering classroom – and in particular in certain subjects which are highly technological in nature such as, for instance, rocket engines and space propulsion – means overcoming certain challenges that arise from the fact that these are extremely complex systems to analyze. In this paper, we address the specific means to overcome one of such challenges: the lack of readily available software tools that are suitable for implementing this sort of teaching strategies within the engineering training. In particular, we develop a new tool for the modeling and simulation of liquid-propellant rocket engines specially tailored for the classroom, taking a systematic approach to the development of such tool based on the needs of modern teaching practices. After a thorough review of the available literature on the topic, the few most critical features that our tool should have in order to serve its purported goal are identified. Subsequently, a pilot experience to assess the impact of the usage of said tool on the learners' performance was carried out, showcasing excellent results, both in terms of the students' perceived quality of their training as well as in terms of their grade of retention and understanding of the matter. The conclusions of this study, especially the guidelines for the development of software tools aimed at the classroom, nevertheless, should be applicable to any other highly technological discipline, extending the scope of this paper beyond merely the subject of rocket science in engineering.

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