June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
NSF Grantees Poster Session
23.355.1 - 23.355.6
Curricular Materials and Methods for Student Conceptual Understanding in Mechanics of Materials Knowledge necessary for innovation refers to more than just the ability to searchfor an equation that suits the situation, but the ability to understand, apply, and transferinformation to new situations. In order for knowledge to be transferable it needs to bebased on fundamental concepts, instead of computational algorithms or equations.Because the specific applications of engineering knowledge are so diverse, an innovativeengineer must possess a strong understanding of the concepts underlying the problemsdiscussed in the classroom. The idea of conceptual understanding captures the type ofknowledge necessary for innovation. By definition, conceptual understanding is flexibleand transferable; a person with this deeper understanding is able to apply it in anyenvironment. The goal of this project is to conduct research on student’s conceptualunderstanding of select topics in mechanics of materials. Student interviews wereconducted with 82 sophomore level engineering students from four different universities. An interview protocol that provides a student the opportunity to fully representtheir understanding and knowledge through the presentation of concepts in multiplecontexts was implemented using Piaget’s clinical interview and think-aloud interviewmethods. The interview protocol focused on stresses and strains in axially loadedmembers and beams. The protocol was designed to provide students multiple scenariosand contexts to share their understanding of stress and strain, including typical textbookor homework-like representations, ranking tasks, physical models, and pictures of failedmembers. The combination of interview questions with multiple contexts, an interviewprotocol with probing questions and clinical think-aloud interview methods providedextensive opportunities to elicit student thinking.Several misconceptions were identified through this process: 1. If an axially loaded member is pulled in the horizontal direction, then the change in size in the vertical direction is due to an applied force. 2. Stresses only occur in the direction of the applied load. Students often believed that stresses only occurred in the direction of the applied load, even when considering stress elements at orientations not parallel or perpendicular to the applied load. 3. Bad things happen near point loads in beams and axially loaded members. Students often believed that the largest stresses in these members were near point loads, without consideration of textbook equations of stress distributions under specific loads. 4. Normal stresses do not occur in beams because they are not in the direction of the load. Students often reported that the only stresses in beams were under the point load and in the direction of the point load.These misconceptions provide practical knowledge for instructors and insights to theoriesof conceptual change.
Brown, S. A., & Montfort, D. (2013, June), Curricular Materials and Methods for Student Conceptual Understanding in Mechanics of Materials Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19369
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