Albuquerque, New Mexico
June 24, 2001
June 24, 2001
June 27, 2001
6.92.1 - 6.92.13
A Remedy for the "Statics" Condition Geraldine B. Milano, PE, Eugene Golub, PhD, PE New Jersey Institute of Technology Civil & Environmental Engineering Dept.
Historically, Engineering Mechanics/Statics has always been a difficult course for engineering students. The course is central to the entire curriculum in both Civil and Mechanical Engineering. Many courses in the curriculum build on the concepts of Statics. It requires an understanding of the basic principles of Mechanics as well as the ability to visualize objects in two and three dimensions. Central to the course, it requires the student to master the many techniques for problem solving. These techniques require the mastery of vector algebra and a solid background in trigonometry, which is often lacking. Finally, each week of the course builds on the mastery of the work from previous weeks. The student must keep pace with the course – there is no catch-up.
Statics has never been a student favorite at the University. Students prefer to use formulas that they can plug-and-chug. They are resistant to analyzing. Vector cross products has them seeing cross-eyed and dot products has them dumbfounded. As a result, there was a high drop rate in the course. Students attempted to take the course without doing the time-consuming homework required to master the material. This resulted in high failure rate of those that remained in the course.
It was time to rethink the approach to teaching this course with emphasis on student effort. A lecture/recitation format is now used for the day sections. All mechanics classes meet for a multimedia lecture that presents the concepts with vivid graphics and quasi-animation. Then individual sections meet separately for the hands-on application complete with props for the recitation. The key to the success, however, is the cooperation of the students with major use of the internet for communication.
The results have been a marked decrease in the withdrawal rate and those remaining in the course are demonstrating greater understanding of the material.
Approximately thirty and forty years ago, the authors were sophomores taking Statics. Before taking this course, students were required to take a four-credit course in Physics that was at least fifty percent Statics. The Statics course was also four credits with a homework load that is double that which is required by today's students. The scope of the material covered was not significantly different than the current curriculum but was non-vectorial with emphasis on free
Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education
Milano, G., & Golub, G. (2001, June), A Remedy For The Statics Condition Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. https://peer.asee.org/9730
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