Incorporating Videos and Quizzes in Canvas


Dr. Alarcon teaches Mechanics of Materials (CEE216/BME271), Statics and Dynamics (Engineering Analysis II). She has also taught DTCII- Design Thinking and Communication as well as System Dynamics (Engineering Analysis III).

Dr. Alarcon received her Ph. D. in Civil Engineering from Northwestern University, studying the constitutive modeling of direct measures of strain in simulated fault gauge. She also received a Ph. D. at the University of Sevilla. She has an M.S degree from the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (Civil Engineering School) and Northwestern University. She is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Illinois and is a member of the Structural Engineering Association of Illinois (SEAOI) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Prior to teaching at Northwestern she worked for over 5 years for Halvorson and Partners on major building projects such as Torre Repsol in Madrid (Spain).


The courses Mechanics of Materials CEE 216/BME271 and Engineering Analysis II: Statics and Dynamics only use traditional books. Some students need to be engaged in different ways since this class may not be part of their major. I integrated lightboard videos on Canvas to provide supplemental learning tools for students. I also implemented in-class quizzes using Canvas to monitor student progress.

Example of Mechanics of Materials Fall 2015 Syllabus

1 21-Sep Organization and Equilibrium 1.1 – 1.2
22-Sep Normal Stress and Shear Stress 1.3 – 1.5 & videos PL1
23-Sep Strain 2.1, 2.2
25-Sep Mechanical Properties 3.1-3.4
2 28-Sep Poisson’s Ratio 3.6
29-Sep Axial Loading & Superposition 4.1-4.3 & videos PL2
30-Sep Statically Indeterminate 4.4
2-Oct Thermal Stress 4.6
3 5-Oct Torsion 5.1, 5.2
6-Oct Angle of twist 5.4
7-Oct Indeterminate Torque-Loaded Members 5.5
9-Oct Indeterminate Torque-Loaded Members
4 12-Oct Review
13-Oct Midterm #1
14-Oct Pure Bending 6.3, 6.4
16-Oct Moment of Inertia A.1, A.2 & videos PL3
5 19-Oct Moment of Inertia
20-Oct Shear Force and Bending Moment 6.1, 6.2
21-Oct Shear Force and Bending Moment
23-Oct Shear Force and Bending Moment videos PL4
6 26-Oct Shear Force and Bending Moment
27-Oct Shear Force and Bending Moment
28-Oct Shear Stress in Beams 7.1, 7.2
30-Oct Shear Stress in Beams
7 2-Nov Shear Stress in Beams
3-Nov Stress Transformations 9.1, 9.2
4-Nov Mohr’s Circle 9.4 & videos PL5
6-Nov Mohr’s Circle
8 9-Nov Principal Stress, Max Shear 9.3
10-Nov Thin-wall members 8.1
11-Nov Review
13-Nov Midterm #2
9 16-Nov The elastic curve 12.1
17-Nov Deflection of beams 12.2, 12.3
18-Nov Superposition 12.5
20-Nov Statically Indeterminate Beams 12.6, 12.7 & videos PL6
10 23-Nov Statically Indeterminate Beams
24-Nov Statically Indeterminate Beams
25-Nov Thanksgiving
27-Nov Thanksgiving
11 30-Nov Buckling of Columns 13.1-13.3 & videos PL7
1-Dec Review


Example Quiz Fall 2015

quiz screen shot


This project shows how to increase the level of engagement for students, particularly those who might be taking the class to fulfill a breadth requirement. This includes adding YouTube videos recorded in Northwestern’s lightboard studio as well as quizzes to test students’ knowledge of the material before the lecture. I created 21 video lectures organized in playlist by topic (PL on the syllabus shown above) for a total of 7 playlists. Each contained 3 or 4 videos or about 8 minutes each since this is the time that has proven to be optimal to maintain engagement. Some videos required that I wrote before starting to record due to the length of the content, on some others I just wrote as I spoke like in a regular classroom setting.

The following video corresponds to one of the key topics in Mechanics of Materials: Bending of beams and drawing the shear and bending diagrams for a very characteristic load: the distributed load.



The main objective of this project was to provide supplemental learning tools to engage students in a classroom-like setting outside the classroom.

The videos were a success since they can watch them multiple times in preparation for the tests. The class response to those was very positive. A large majority of the class used them even though there were no grade incentives, watching them was extra credit if a quiz was filled afterwards.


Through discussion with students, I learned that they liked the Lightboard videos because they could watch the material multiple times if needed. In addition, some students even came to class with insightful questions that led to further discussion in class. Quizzes were not as useful; the challenges of quiz preparation outweigh the benefits.


This work only looks at limited data (3 quarters). Since Mechanics of Materials (CEE216/BME271) is a core class, we will have more data in the upcoming quarters. It will be useful to keep track of the surveys given to students after the videos to analyze the results and quatify the improvement in their performance.

I can also quatify the response for Statics (EA2) since some of the videos can be used in that class.


I would like to thank Professor Peshkin and Professor Birdwell for their support while working on the videos. Their help and insight was very much appreciated.

For more information on the Lightboard please visit:

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