June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.153.1 - 22.153.10
Alignment of Preparation via First-year Physics Mechanics and Calculus Courses with Expectations for a Sophomore Statics and Dynamics CourseAnecdotally, engineering faculty members complain students taking sophomore engineeringscience courses are not prepared with respect to mathematics and physics. In response, facultymembers from mathematics and/or physics contend their courses have adequately preparedstudents in terms of needed knowledge and skills in their respective subjects. However, theseconversations are rarely supported by carefully analyzed data with respect to key questions.These questions include the following: • For sophomore engineering science courses, what is expected with respect to mathematical preparation? • For sophomore engineering science courses, what is expected with respect to preparation in physics mechanics? • To what extent are the expectations with respect to mathematics preparation aligned with the topics covered in first-year calculus courses? • To what extent are the expectations with respect to physics mechanics preparation aligned with the topics covered in first-year physics mechanics course?To answer the first two questions for a sophomore engineering course in statics and dynamics ata large public university, a doctoral student used Q-matrix theory to analyze all of the homeworkand exam problems to see what knowledge and skills in mathematics and physics mechanicswere needed to answer the questions. In addition to the analysis by the principal doctoral student,two doctoral students in mechanical engineering analyzed a set of randomly selected problems toprovide a check of the validity of the analysis. Instead of asking one or more engineering facultymembers for their expectations, analyzing homework and exam problems allowed the analysis tobe based on actual evidence from an offering of the course instead of perceptions of facultymembers about what they might want. From this analysis, a list of knowledge and skills inmathematics and physics mechanics was constructed.To answer the last two questions, the student compared the list of knowledge and skills to thesyllabi and table of contents for the first-year mathematics and physics mechanics courses. Thepaper will present results of these analyses and offer insights in terms of where the courses werewell aligned and where alignment could benefit from further attention. Hopefully, this analysiswill provide a firmer basis for future conversations about alignment between engineering sciencecourses and the first-year courses that are, in part, expected to prepare students for these courses.
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