Office of Educational Assessment
Updated 4/4/2007

An Integrated Modeling, Analysis, and Authoring Environment for Structural/Mechanical Engineering Education

This password-protected site is intended to facilitate communication among members of the program leadership team and to serve as a readily accessible archive of evaluation documents to assist in reporting to program stakeholders.


The purpose of this Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement grant from the National Science Foundation is to develop an authoring tool that faculty can use to develop online, interactive modeling exercises. In these activities, students in structural engineering courses virtually manipulate computer models to gain an intuitive sense of the behavior of certain types of structures. Another important feature of the authoring environment is that it is highly adaptable for use by engineering instructors, depending on the course and students they are teaching and their overall instructional needs.

During the 2005-2006 academic year, a set of existing exercises that was developed with this tool were used in engineering courses at three different universities: University of Washington, University of Wyoming, and California Polytechnic State University. These pilots of the computer modeling authoring tool were intended as an initial phase of a larger possible project involving faculty at multiple universities developing their own modeling exercises for use in their classrooms.


The primary purpose of the evaluation was to collect feedback from students and faculty about the three pilot uses of the integrated modeling software. Data were also collected to document impact of these innovative educational exercises on student learning. The evaluation involved three primary components:

  • Pre- and post-online surveys for students, including both evaluative questions about students' experiences using the tools and objective assessments of their understanding of relevant concepts.
  • Inverviews with instructors involved in the pilot to ask them about the prospect of using the authoring tool to develop their own exercises, any barriers they anticipated to such an endeavor, and their thoughts about how to encourage other faculty to use the tool.
  • Analysis of any existing examination data that might be relevant to how well students have learned about the behavior of certain structures.


OEA provided extremely brief descriptive summaries of the data collected from the pre- and post-surveys conducted during each of the three pilot iterations of the computer modeling software as well as a report summarizing these data and key points from the faculty interviews.


Copyright© 2005-2006 UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON Office of Educational Assessment