Dynamics is one of the core courses in Civil Engineering Technology. The principles of dynamics apply to civil engineering practices in the areas of roadway design, bridge design, building design and seismic retrofit and rehabilitation. Students should have a functional understanding of the course materials rather than substitute numbers into the given equations. Active learning promotes hands-on learning, and has been proven to increase critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. It gets students more involved in their classes and students enjoy their classes more. In this paper, we present a hands-on active learning module using shake table testing to supplement the traditional lectures of Dynamics in order to enhance teaching and learning effectiveness. The learning outcomes include understanding basic vibrations and dynamics terminology, and modeling structural systems using single-degree-of-freedom models. Students design, build, analyze and test their scaled balsa wood building models. The shake table input motions include sinusoidal waves and four scaled earthquakes. The real-time motions of the models are recorded by a video camera. The final exam grades of the students were compared before and after the hands-on active learning module was implemented. The results show significant enhancement of students’ grades as well as teaching and learning effectiveness. Feedback about the hands-on shake table testing module was also collected and analyzed, and students’ feedback shows the active learning module advances their understanding of the course materials and enhances their interest in Dynamics.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



© 2020 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

Document Type

Conference Paper

Department, Program, or Center

Civil Engineering Technology Environmental Management and Safety (CET)


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