I think all courses should focus more on practicality and real-world problems. The theory is fine, but the theory alone is not what creates the best engineer, in my opinion. I feel that I learned more when the professor was able to explain how the theory (or formula) translates to the real world. For example, my professor for my "Mechanics and Materials" class actually broke a white board eraser trying to explain the tension and compression fibers. It was really helpful to have the visual, as funny as it was. This classroom was the only one with "bendy" erasers.What types of tests prepare better engineers?
This is kind of a loaded question. In general, I don't think tests better prepare an engineer. It's the coursework, lessons, and homework. It also depends on the industry and what your definition is for a "better engineer." Generally speaking, more practical and real-world coursework will better prepare an engineer. Reality is that we have notes; we have Google; we have resources at our fingertips to answer questions. Isn't it discouraging for students to strive for a 55 on a test and be happy with that?
I think this question can be interpreted in a couple of ways. Is 55% the passing grade on that particular test or is 55% all that you need to pass the class because you already have a high grade? I don't know if it is discouraging, but I would say that this is more of character-building. Even if you only need 55% to either pass the test or the class, you should shoot for excellence. That is a characteristic that is hard to "train" or "build" in a person if they don't already have it.What testing methods best help the students retain the information?
I think don't the test is designed to help students retain the information. I think it is designed to rank students, or show some proof that they have an acceptable amount of retainage. To help students retain the information -- I think that it's all in the lesson plans, coursework, homework, and projects. What testing methods best help the professor gauge if we understand the material?
If I was a professor, it would be from the tests, projects, and presentations.
I would say that, in general, a test is exactly what it is. It tests to see if a student has an acceptable amount of mastery or learned knowledge of the subject. Tests allow the professor to grade students and churn out acceptable graduates for the real world. However, the coursework is what trains our minds to become engineers, problem solvers, or future professors. I have yet to meet an engineer who was so well-rounded that he/she can provide solutions to every problem. Reality is that we all depend on other engineers to find solutions in their field of expertise. A solution that is more practical is going to be more efficient and (most of the time) will cost less.
Jefferson Thao P.E., M.ASCE
McClone Construction Company
Sent: 10-27-2021 08:09 AM
From: Daniel Bressler
Subject: Engineering Exam Styles
As I am sure, all of us have seen our fair share of civil engineering exams. You know, the do-or-die type, the 2-questions-midterm worth 20% of your final grade type.
Most often we weren't allowed to bring anything with us besides a pencil, calculator...
Sometimes, if the professor was generous, we were allowed to bring anything we wanted besides a phone or laptop. Other times, a single sheet of handwritten notes.
With no clear standard and every professor's testing style differentiating, this got me thinking:
What types of tests prepare better engineers?
Isn't it discouraging for students to strive for a 55 on a test and be happy with that?
What testing methods best help the students retain the information?
What testing methods best help the professor gauge if we understand the material?
Daniel Bressler EIT, A.M.ASCE