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J. Montoya

Universidad de Ibague (COLOMBIA)
This paper presents a theoretical and practical method to improve the teaching-learning process in a course on Mechanics of Materials in a Civil Engineering program. The method was used during six academic periods. It is comprised of three stages: observation of a phenomena, the study of constitutive equations, and experimentation. In the first stage, students observe phenomena related to the topic of study before the numerical and mathematical development. In the second stage, the professor and the students delve into the theoretical conceptualization of the observed phenomena, deduce the mathematical equations of practical use for modeling the phenomena, and solve implementation problems. In the third stage, students build mathematical and physical models as a course project, which allow them to measure linear strain, and thus calculate stresses and other mechanical properties of materials. An inductive-deductive-inductive pedagogical approach was taken. The first inductive phase consisted of visualization and experimentation with a simple physical model. The second inductive phase consisted of problem solving and physical model development. The two inductive phases were bridged with a more deductive development of the constitutive equations. This student-centered teaching method was implemented in an attempt to reduce the high number of withdrawals and failing grades, and to provide contrast to the traditional teacher-centered learning process. The implementation of this approach in a course that previously only used lecture resulted in a significant increase in the student passing rate and decrease in the number of withdrawals.