Streamlining Curriculum to Grow Student Proficiency
Georgia Southern University is a nationally recognized college serving over 27,000 students across three campuses. Spencer Harp teaches Solid Modeling and Analysis, and Engineering Graphics, both of which are graduation requirements for mechanical engineering and manufacturing engineering degrees at Georgia Southern. Harp initially adopted SolidProfessor by himself, but SolidProfessor slowly grew to be used by ~350 students and implemented by seven different professors in the university’s engineering department.
Harp and Georgia Southern had to reevaluate their curriculum when the local engineering and manufacturing industry began to shift its focus away from 2D drafting and towards 3D modeling. “The companies that hired our students were moving away from AutoCAD and beginning to hire graduates with SOLIDWORKS skills,” says Harp.
At the same time, the education industry was moving towards video-based learning which also necessitated curriculum changes. “In college, there are so many kids in every class and each one prefers to learn in a different way and at different speeds. A textbook can’t fit multiple learning styles, so it didn’t make sense to continue using it in a lab class.”
This past summer, Harp sat down and began to restructure his classes. Using SolidProfessor, he broke class material into small assignments that take from 30 minutes to an hour to complete. “My students check out after an hour of learning, so I try to keep my homework assignments under an hour.” His students are assigned SolidProfessor videos to watch the day before coming to class. As a result, Harp’s class time is focused around completing hands-on practice exercises (many of which are provided by SolidProfessor), peer collaboration, and one-on-one instruction. “The exercises SolidProfessor provides are extremely useful,” states Harp, because they reinforce the concepts and techniques taught in the videos and allow students to grow their modeling proficiency. “I wish there were even more,” exclaims Harp.
The engineering department heads started requiring other engineering teachers to adopt SolidProfessor in their classes as a result of the success Harp had with his students. The time savings, cost savings, and proficiency increases seen in Harp’s students were too significant for the department to ignore. “Before SolidProfessor, my class consisted of one and a half hours of lecture on topics and techniques and one a half hours of hands-on practice. Now, learning about techniques and theory happens at home and all three hours of class time are used to practice the concepts and techniques learned at home and to give students a chance to ask specific questions,” stated Harp. Students are getting through the same amount of curriculum but in half the time. “It’s no longer a slog to work our way through the entire curriculum.”
The time savings have given Harp the ability to focus on certification. “Previously, I quickly gave a general overview of the test and walked through common topics, but now I can focus on each section of the test, break down test-taking strategies, and answer any lingering questions. Historically, 60% of my classes passed the CSWA, but with the help of SolidProfessor the pass rate jumped to over 80%,” says Harp. Many students pass his class and move on to more advanced engineering courses and continue to utilize their SolidProfessor membership as they can access the library of lessons for an entire year. “Because of the way this generation learns, visually while connected to technology at all times, and the direction of the engineering and education industries, it’s important to have an online video-based educational platform.”
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