PHYSICAL MODELS AND BLENDED LEARNING: THEIR IMPACT IN CIVIL ENGINEERING STUDENTS
This paper presents a case study of students’ perceptions and attitudes towards a Blended Learning (BL) course, strengthened by the use of physical models in face-to face discussion sessions. The methodology was applied during two semesters in a Mechanics of Materials course in a Civil engineering program. The methodology was applied as part of the active learning approach carried out by the teacher in fundamental courses of Structural Analysis. In this approach, the professor videotaped part of the class and assigned them to students to watch and study outside the classroom as an independent work. In the face-to-face sessions, work teams discussed home learning, with the use of physical models to enhance and facilitate understanding. In this paper, the author presents the results of a survey responded by 90 out of 96 participants. The questionnaire was designed to measure the students’ perceptions and attitudes towards the use of physical models in a BL class. This study concludes that the majority of students have a good perception and attitude towards the methodology. They consider the class time is used in a more effective and efficient way, compared to traditional engineering courses approaches, such as lecture class. They also think they have to work extra time inside and outside the classroom and see it as a negative aspect.
The present study tries to demonstrate that, the BL methodology reinforced with physical representation and experimentation, is a good alternative to strengthen the engineering concepts and make them last over time. This is true since the BL methodology requires the active participation of the students, making them protagonists of the teaching-learning processes, which is not necessarily true in a traditional lecturing approach.