June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.109.1 - 13.109.9
A Statics Skills Inventory
Engineering faculty recognize the value of assessment instruments to measure student learning and to evaluate changes in teaching. As a result, a number of engineering subject assessment instruments formulated as “concept” inventories have been developed. Taking a different tack, the authors of this paper decided to focus on assessment of student skills in statics and this paper provides details of the development of a statics skills assessment tool. The use of only concept inventories to provide proof of student learning is an incomplete assessment as effective application of engineering knowledge consists of both a sound understanding of conceptual knowledge and skill intertwined. For instance, while demonstrating understanding of the concept of equilibrium is valuable, it is also important students are able to generate correct equations of equilibrium. A multi-step Delphi process involving statics educators was used to reach consensus on the important skills of statics. The Delphi rankings, including the importance of the skill as judged by the Delphi participants as well as an estimate of the proportion of students whom can perform the skill, were used to develop the final list of top ranked skills. Initial skill-based questions were developed to probe these areas and tested with students. The current status of the skill assessment instrument is discussed.
Statics is usually the first in a series of courses within the broader body of knowledge commonly referred to as engineering mechanics. Virtually all engineering and engineering technology students take statics and it is a fundamental course prerequisite for other mechanics courses such as dynamics and strength of materials. Success in these latter courses is directly correlated to success in statics.
Demonstrated proof of student learning and mastery of engineering knowledge is now required by ABET’s outcomes-based environment1. Additionally, engineering faculty need instruments for formative use in assessing implementation of new course design strategies and instructional practices intended to increase student learning. As in the physics community, the bulk of the development effort has focused on engineering subject concept inventories. Typically, these concept inventories focus on determining student understanding of a subject’s fundamental concepts, usually through questions involving minimal calculation. Examples are a concept inventory for dynamics2, a tool complementing the previously developed Force Concept Inventory3, and for statics4.
It can be argued that using only concept inventories to provide proof of student learning is an incomplete assessment as engineering knowledge consists of both conceptual knowledge and skill intertwined. For instance, while demonstrating understanding of the concept of equilibrium is valuable, it is also important to be able to generate correct equations of equilibrium. Thus, as a companion project to one investigating the concepts of statics, this paper reports on work
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