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Assessment Of Interactive Courseware For Shear Force And Bending Moment Diagrams

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Labs, Demos and Software in Mechanics

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.235.1 - 10.235.16

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Paper Authors

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Richard Hall

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Carla Campbell

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Nancy Hubing

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Timothy Philpot

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3568

Assessment of Interactive Courseware for Shear Force and Bending Moment Diagrams

Timothy A. Philpot, Richard H. Hall, Nancy Hubing, and Carla Campbell

University of Missouri – Rolla


Accurate construction of shear force and bending moment diagrams (V/M diagrams) is one of the most important skills students learn in the Statics course since mastery of this topic is a prerequisite to successful design of beams and shafts in courses such as Mechanics of Materials, Machine Design, Structural Analysis, and Structural Design. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of Statics students do not attain adequate proficiency in constructing V/M diagrams. In response to this problem, several computer-based learning aids have been developed in recent years to improve student performance in constructing V/M diagrams. Although results have been encouraging, assessment of the effectiveness of these learning aids has often been limited in scope. Engineering mechanics instructors at the University of Missouri – Rolla have addressed this problem by developing and testing a series of computer-based learning aids on V/M diagrams for use by Statics students and instructors. Approximately 230 students participated in the assessment. About forty percent used the computer-based learning aids and the rest served as a control group. Quantitative and qualitative measures were used for comparison, and subjective comments were solicited from each group. Students in the experimental group scored significantly higher on learning outcomes and confidence ratings with respect to the content covered in the computer based learning aids. This paper describes the computer-based exercises developed for V/M diagrams and their assessment.


Computer-based learning aids for constructing shear force and bending moment (V/M) diagrams are especially appealing to engineering mechanics instructors for the following reasons: • Many statics students fail to master this topic, which is essential for successful design of beams and shafts in courses such as Mechanics of Materials, Machine Design, Structural Analysis, and Structural Design. • The construction of V/M diagrams tends to be a time-consuming process, especially when presented in traditional lecture format.

The format of computer-based modules for construction of V/M diagrams varies widely depending on the solution method and intended use. Basic calculation packages allow the student or instructor to define loads on a beam and produce the resulting V/M diagrams [1-2]. They also serve as a resource for students to check assigned problems or for instructors to construct new problems. Modules intended for use as student problems (assigned or practice problems) usually require the student to construct some portion of the diagram or make decisions about the solution method [3-4]. More recent interactive modules provide questions and feedback intended to mimic thought processes for successful construction of V/M diagrams. For example, a computer-based module can be used to provide a series of questions that guide the

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Hall, R., & Campbell, C., & Hubing, N., & Philpot, T. (2005, June), Assessment Of Interactive Courseware For Shear Force And Bending Moment Diagrams Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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