July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Concept inventories are useful diagnostic tools for courses in which students’ knowledge of the fundamentals covered by a course are tested without requiring them to perform calculations. Thus, the students’ understanding of the main concepts can be tested without worry regarding computational errors. These inventories are often used as assessment tools (both for ABET purposes and internally for course improvement) because they can illustrate which topics students struggle with and whether improvement in a topic was evident throughout the course. They also serve to reinforce fundamental principles and conceptual understanding in a discipline that tends to overemphasize the ability to perform numerical calculation. Concept inventories exist for many subjects, including Physics, Statics, Thermodynamics, and Dynamics. At least two groups had begun work on concept inventories for Mechanics of Materials which now appears to have been abandoned. Thus, the authors developed their own concept inventory for use with a Mechanics of Materials course.
This concept inventory was administered to students in the Strength of Materials course at XXX twice in the Spring 2020 semester – once as a pretest in the first week of the course, and then again as a post-test in the last week of the course. Students earned small course credit for completing the inventories regardless of how they scored. The results of these tests were used for analyses of student understanding as well as the performance of the concept test itself. We examined the performance of students on the post-test relative to the pretest and correlated results of both tests to course grades. We also determined diagnostic information about the test questions, such as difficulty index and discrimination index, to find whether the questions on the test were doing the job we wished them to do.
Overall, we found that the student performance improved between the pretest and the post-test. Also, we found a weak positive correlation between student course percentage grade and the post-test performance. Most test questions had difficulty values in an acceptable range; we saw more questions which may have been too hard than those which may have been too easy. Over 80% of the questions were found to have discrimination index values over 0.2, meaning that the questions were able to differentiate between students performing well and students who performed poorly. This instrument seems to provide a foundation for future improvements.
Kuchnicki, S. N., & Ericson, T. M. (2021, July), Development of a New Concept Inventory for Mechanics of Materials Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36960
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