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Direct Assessment Of Mechanics Of Materials Learning With Concept Inventory

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Technology Curriculum Innovations

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.549.1 - 12.549.10



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Paper Authors


Shannon Sweeney Pennsylvania State University-Erie

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Shannon Sweeney received AS and BS degrees from West Virginia Institute of Technology and MSME degree from Case Western Reserve University. His primary teaching responsibilities are in mechanics of materials and vibrations, and his research concentrates on vibration measurement and analysis and on quality assurance. Prior to coming to Penn State he was a design engineer in industry.

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Richard Englund Pennsylvania State University-Erie

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Richard Englund received a BSME from Washington State University and MSME from The State University of New York at Buffalo. His teaching and research interests are in the areas of mechanical design and experimental measurements. Mr. Englund is a Professional Engineer in Pennsylvania and is involved in new product design and research with local industry. Prior to coming to Penn State he was a design engineer in industry.

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Robert Edwards Pennsylvania State University-Erie

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Robert Edwards is currently a Lecturer in Engineering at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College where he teaches Statics, Dynamics, and Fluid and Thermal Science courses. He earned a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology and an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Gannon University.

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

Direct Assessment of Mechanics of Materials Learning with Concept Inventory Introduction

This paper presents a tool for direct formative assessment and the results of continuous improvement activities in teaching mechanics of material topics in a mechanical engineering technology program. The tool is a beta version of a concept inventory assessment1 and, as such, is a mid-term multiple-choice quiz with conceptual questions rather than procedural questions.

Feedback from the tool is provided to the students in a non-threatening manner so they can assess their understanding of the topics and identify areas for improvement. Instructors can use the results for continuous improvement of topic coverage in the courses. To date, the assessment has been conducted for the same group of students in their junior and senior years as a longitudinal design2. It has also been conducted on a subsequent group of students in their junior year as a baseline-data design2. The results of the assessments are provided and discussed along with continuous improvement activities in each course.


Recent criteria for ABET accreditation requires an assessment of learning objectives and outcomes3. Monitoring the learning process4, 5 is a key part of continuous improvement of higher education. Many forms of assessment6, 7 are currently being developed to monitor the leaning process. Concept inventories8 have become a popular form of assessing students’ conceptual knowledge of important topics. Concept inventory assessment tools have been or are being developed for engineering topics such as force9, dynamics10, heat transfer11, fluid mechanics12, etc. This work presents a concept inventory for direct formative assessment of student learning in mechanics of materials.

Often, assessment activities have been indirect in that they question or survey students on their perception of their ability to meet course objectives which can obviously produce some subjective results. Currently, ABET accreditation requires more direct assessment of learning outcomes to provide more objective results and, in turn, better direction for continuous improvement activities. The accreditation requirement of direct assessment rather than indirect assessment is a valuable one which is certainly expected to continue.

At Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, the focus of the mechanical engineering technology program is applied design. As a result of this focus and industrial advisory board input, the curriculum has a strong and sometimes repetitive emphasis on relatively advanced topics in mechanics of materials such as three-dimensional Hooke’s Law and transformation of stress and/or strain. Students are exposed to these advanced topics in more than one course and by different instructors. In an effort to satisfy each instructor’s procedural requirements, students often do not comprehend the underlying concepts and even develop misconceptions about the topics. As they lack comprehension of the underlying concepts, they may even perceive a contradiction of the concepts as taught by different instructors.

Sweeney, S., & Englund, R., & Edwards, R. (2007, June), Direct Assessment Of Mechanics Of Materials Learning With Concept Inventory Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1789

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015