Teaching Mechatronics to Non-traditional Mechanical Engineering Students – An Adaptive Approach

Cheryl Qing Li

Abstract


The mechanical engineering program at our university has adopted an integrated curriculum, with the first-two years based on multidisciplinary engineering foundation spiral courses across the college, and the last-two years following traditional mechanical engineering courses within the home department. This paper presents how we introduce the broad field of mechatronics to non-traditional mechanical engineering students via a single technical elective course. Students enrolled in mechatronics usually demonstrate a wide range in knowledge and skill preparation, especially in the areas of electronics, instrumentation, and programming. Such diversity of backgrounds, in addition to the breadth of topics typically associated with mechatronics, impose a great challenge to the design and delivery of the course. In this empirical investigation, we propose an adaptive approach to respond to the challenge. Two stages of adaptation are involved in this teaching approach. At the stage of course design, design-loop adaption is applied to restructure the course contents based on a starting point assessment. During the process of course delivery, task-loop adaption is implemented based on the dynamic assessment of student knowledge state. By replacing the common one-fixed-content-fit-all teaching approach to an adaptive one, we can engage the less prepared and less enthusiastic students while maintaining the interest of the majority in class. Qualitative analysis of the course evaluation results have shown that the adaptive teaching approach has achieved success in several dimensions. The most encouraging feedback lies in the fact that students’ interests in the broad field of mechatronics are greatly inspired by the course.

Keywords


mechatronics engineering, adaptive teaching

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International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy (iJEP) – eISSN: 2192-4880
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