An Interactive Digital Experience as an Alternative Laboratory (IDEAL) was developed and implemented in a flipped biomechanics classroom. The IDEAL challenge problem was created to more closely simulate a real-world scenario than typical homework or challenge problems. It added a more involved story, specific characters, simple interaction, and student-led inquiry into a challenge problem. Students analyzed musculoskeletal biomechanics data to conduct a forensic biomechanics investigation of an individual who suffered a fracture. Students ultimately approached the IDEAL problem with a greater appreciation and enjoyment than previous open-ended challenge problems—those that were assigned in a traditional problem-statement manner—throughout the semester. Students who were more fully engaged in the IDEAL challenge problem, as evidenced by the fact that they requested all of the evidence on their own, also performed better on the final report grade. This signals improved learning with respect to biomechanical analysis when the students were creatively participating in the storyline surrounding the forensic investigation.
The authors are with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA. Grimm is also with the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.