Monthly Archives: March 2014

Slam dunk

CIMG0176Here is another lesson plan for use in teaching engineering science.  This one is based on the stress generated by a slam dunk in basketball.  Sports provide many potential Everyday Examples but caution needs taken in selecting them because not all students are interested in or participate in sports.  Research has shown that the context of examples should be familiar to all students in a class.  Otherwise students will be worrying about the context and will not be listening to the explanation of the engineering science.  Examples will be perceived as tedious intellectual exercises unless that allow questions to be posed that have interesting or useful answers.  Student motivation is closely linked to their perception of the usefulness of the exercise.

When Everyday Examples are set in a familiar context and yield fruitful outcomes, then the level of student engagement and learning is not influenced by the level of difficulty.  So there is no need to idealise a scenario to an elementary problem prior to applying engineering principles.  And here is the proverbial slam dunk, instructors who successful incorporate appropriate Everyday Examples into their lectures are likely to be rated more highly by their students, regardless of the associated level of difficulty.

Lesson plan: 5EplanNoS9_eccentric_loading

See the Everyday Examples page on this blog for more lesson plans and more background on Everyday Examples.


Reading offline

138-3816_IMGDavid Mikics, writing in the New York Times, reports recent research suggests that reading books is an important aspect of coming to know who we are.  It is a private experience that is best done without distractions, i.e. all of your attention capacity is employed on the book [see my post entitled ‘Silence is golden‘ on January 14th, 2014 for more on attention capacity].  Our brains can achieve a much deeper level of thought and engagement when they are focussed on a single task without distractions.  This just does not happen when reading on-line because there are too many distractions.  Some research has shown that office-workers are distracted every three minutes and that it takes about 20 minutes to achieve a high level of engagement in a task.  So it is easy to see the attraction for bosses of replacing white-collar workers by smart machines [see my post entitled ‘Smart Machines‘ on February 26th, 2014].

But David Mikics suggests that reading a novel is important for deeper reasons associated with learning lessons about humanity that are not available elsewhere.  Novels take us on a journey with another self and allow us to look into people’s inner lives.  None of this can be achieved reading short blogs or watching short videos on-line and is perhaps why reading a good novel on holiday is such a cathartic and popular activity.

But don’t stop reading my blog instead click the ‘follow’ button if you have not already and then you can be distracted every Wednesday!