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Purdue’s New Approach To Education For Engineers
By Shayne Bevilacqua | 06-15-2014

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you have used YouTube at some point or another. And, if you have used YouTube, there is a possibility you have accessed one of the millions of instructional videos housed there that deviate from the norm (you know…cute cat videos, movie previews, music videos, etc.)

Several professors from the University of Purdue have understood the power of multimedia in the realm of education and are harnessing that power in a provocative and novel approach to college education.

A Purdue professor of mechanical engineering, Charles Krousgrill, along with fellow professors Jeffrey Rhodes, Eric Nauman and Beth Holloway, are championing this new multimedia system of education dubbed the Purdue Mechanics Freeform Classroom. If they have their way, Purdue will not be the only university utilizing this effective form of higher learning.

“Data analysis shows that the students are really engaging our materials, and it is having a marked effect on student performance,” said Krousgrill (phys.org).

Recently, engineering classrooms have seen an influx of new enrollees, which have made the challenges of educating large bodies of students that much harder.

The Purdue Mechanics Freeform Classroom utilizes the power of the Internet, interweaving instructional videos and animations with the web’s inherent ability to connect, discuss and socialize. The system has been used for more than two years now, and it has shown to have a striking improvement on students’ grades and engagement.

Since the beginning of the program, studies have shown that the Drop, Fail, Withdraw (DFW) rate has dropped substantially through the Basic Mechanics courses. Classroom attendance has increased from 70 percent to 85-90 percent in most cases. Along with that, professors are reporting a higher degree of commitment within the student body.

At the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, held in Indianapolis from June 15-18, Krousgrill and his colleagues will introduce a research paper detailing the effects of their engineering training program in hopes that other universities will adopt the program into other areas of education.

“With continued development and expansion we hope that the Purdue Mechanics Freeform Classroom can be adopted at colleges and universities across the globe, rendering a positive and uniform mechanics education experience for all,” Rhodes said (phys.org).

For more information on the program, visit: https://engineering.purdue.edu/~jfrhoads/FOEE_2011.pdf