Improving Learning Outcomes through Peer Assisted Learning in a Statics Course Article (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Cioc, Carmen; Haughton, Noela A; Cioc, Sorin


  • Abstract The Engineering Mechanics Statics (Statics) course is one of the core courses in our Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program and is a prerequisite course for the Strengths of Materials and Dynamics courses. Statics coursework is mandatory for students enrolled in the Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) program. The primary goal of the course is to provide the students with a thorough knowledge of the theory and concepts essential for solving a wide range of engineering mechanics statics problems. The paper describes the authors’ effort to enhance the students’ learning outcomes related to knowledge of statics concepts through a variety of in-class, active learning strategies. These included peer-assisted learning (PAL) in the form of in-class assignments solved by students in small discussion and collaboration groups. This strategy was briefly introduced during the spring 2017 semester and was extended to the spring 2018 and 2019 semesters, with the Spring 2015 pre-PAL cohort serving as a baseline. All PAL students were also required to submit a brief record of the conversations they held to solve the given problem at the end of each exercise. A minimum of 15 minutes per class were dedicated to the active learning strategies and comparisons with a pre-implementation cohort were made. Initial results based on MET students’ scores on several quizzes, three tests, and final overall class score are encouraging and show positive learning outcomes related to components of a force on an x- and y-axis or performing a simple basic truss analysis. PAL students also compared favorably to the non-PASL cohort on several assignments. Benefits, limitations, and future directions are also discussed.

publication date

  • 2020