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  • Student groups competed this past fall to be the first to complete the Black Box Challenge test r...
    Student groups competed this past fall to be the first to complete the Black Box Challenge test review in Dr. Anthony Battistini's civil engineering structural analysis course.

A Fun Twist on Test Reviews


When Dr. Anthony Battistini, assistant professor of engineering, was selected as a CREEME faculty fellow last year, he was tasked with redesigning one of his courses to add an element of cultural responsiveness and cultural relevancy.

Dr. Anthony D. BattistiniDr. Anthony D. BattistiniWhat resulted was an engaging course with an alternate final exam review that included puzzles in the same fashion as what you might see in a popular escape room.

The course, CENG 3361 Structural Analysis I, studied structures from different cultures of the world. It was set up like a trip around the world, with each class meeting highlighting a new culture and a structure within that culture.

“I wanted to make students more culturally aware that engineering is universal,” Battistini said. “I wanted them to have a greater awareness of some of the challenges that different cultures face regarding things like the environment and available materials.”

Each day, a different student gave a 5-minute presentation about a structure from a different culture and they detailed its significance and a little about the history and country. The idea is that Battistini can use these reports to inform future semesters and have students explore other structures in the same country.

But Battistini also devoted a lot of time to creating all new instructional materials for the course. Each day’s lecture notes included engineering problems and pictures as they related to the highlighted culture.

“I wanted the students to see the real-world connections with all the examples,” Battistini said.

For the final day of the class. Battistini showed the video below to simulate an airplane crash. (Don’t worry—everyone survived.) Then students were told they needed to determine where in the world the plane had crashed.

Groups of four or five students each found a black lock box in the room and had to answer a series of three puzzles to get the GPS coordinates to answer the question of where the crash had occurred. Each puzzle required students to draw from material covered in class that was going to be on the final exam.

“It was in the same vein as an escape room,” Battistini said. “Some of the students really liked it. They liked that it was group work and that it was a challenge and it fit within our timeframe. Three out of five groups finished within an hour. The last group finished 10 minutes after class, which isn’t bad.”

Each group was also motivated to finish fast so they could have their pick of a prize, which included items like 5 minutes of help on the final exam, full credit on their lowest homework grade, and 3 extra points on the final exam.

For the exercise, Battistini borrowed the lock boxes from the Maker’s Studio at Stephens Central Library. They were developed by Breakout EDU.

Have you tried something new or innovative with your test reviews? Contact me and tell me all about it.


Jayna Phinney
Jayna Phinney

Jayna Phinney is the Instructional Technology Specialist for the ASU College of Science and Engineering. Contact her at jayna.phinney@angelo.edu or 325-486-6264.

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  • Do you want to write your own blog post or submit an idea for a future post? Contact Jayna Phinney at jayna.phinney@angelo.edu or 325-486-6264. 

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