Interactive Learning Tools: Animating Mechanics of Materials


Computer-based instructional materials offer great potential for engineering education. A challenge that must be addressed in the successful use of this medium, however, is overcoming the students’ tendency toward passively receiving the instruction. Particularly in the impersonal domain of a student interacting with a computer, instructional materials must seek to actively engage students in the learning process. Well-designed software may engage students overtly -- for example, requiring responses to questions, entering the results of calculations, or prompting for decisions -- or indirectly in ways that are more intuitive such as the revealed insight of an expertly executed animation sequence. This paper presents examples of interactive learning tools being developed for the mechanics of materials course. These learning tools feature animations, graphics, and interactivity designed to engage and stimulate students, to effectively explain and illustrate course topics, and to build student problem-solving skills. Student reactions to these learning tools as well as observed changes in student performance are discussed.

Meeting Name

American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition (2002: Jun. 16-19, Montreal, Quebec, Canada)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Second Department

Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Third Department

Business and Information Technology

Keywords and Phrases

Animating statics; Computer-based modules; Learning tools; Moment diagrams; Animation; Civil engineering; Feedback; Kinematics; Multimedia systems; Problem solving; Students; Teaching; Learning systems

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2002 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2002