Enhancing student learning in mechanics through the development and implementation of a concept guide

Enhancing student learning in mechanics through the development and implementation of a concept guide

Academic Year:
2015 - 2016 (June 1, 2015 through May 31, 2016)
Funding Requested:
Project Dates:
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
Every mechanical engineering student and many other engineering students take an introductory course in solid mechanics. The use of both force and moment equilibrium concepts on free bodies are basic to all mechanics problems. Yet, there remain challenges with student learning of concepts and skills associated with typical basic mechanics problems. The hypothesis of this investigation is that academic history may not be a good predictor of a student's ability to learn basic mechanics concepts and acquire problem solving skills, but rather analysis process contributes significantly to student learning. Several specific ideas focusing on bolstering student's learning of concepts will be explored and implemented in this work, which include: i) the development of a concept guide for mechanics covered in Introduction to Solid Mechanics, ii) concept reinforcement by students in small groups, iii) utilization of the concept guide for homework assignments and examinations, and iv) the use of models for visualization and retention of concepts. We will evaluate the success of this investigation by looking at student outcome focusing on the learning and retention of core mechanics concepts. The outcome from this study will be valuable to consider the type of skills that our engineering students should acquire and build from these earlier core coursework.
Proposal PDF:
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:

The objectives are to use a concept guide to introduce and reinforce solid mechanics concepts to students and to use 3D printed model for visualizing simple structures.

Project Achievements:

Overall, the students found the concept guides to be useful in summarizing core mechanics concepts. However, there was not improvement of student performance through quantitative assessment of exam grades compared to other sections or students from a previous year.

Yes, I will be teaching a small section of ME 211 Fall 2017 and plan on using the concept guide again. For the hands-on model, it will depend on the GSI that I work with as this is used in the discussion class.
I have been a part of the small class workgroup in mechanical engineering and College of Engineering and have shared my project activities during regular meetings during the past year. My students and I are also presenting a poster at the ISL poster fair in May 2017.
Advice to your Colleagues:
For the concept guides, I would like to be able to incorporate exam questions that are directly related to the concept guide. I believe that will make it more effective for student learning. For the hands-on model, I would like to create a list of concrete examples of structures that students can build and to illustrate different loading conditions.