June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Educational Research and Methods
15.428.1 - 15.428.20
Does conceptual understanding matter: Patterns of error in senior engineering students problem- solving in Statics?
This paper describes a study that investigates students’ explanations of force when describing the errors they made when solving a Statics problem based on the concepts of free body diagram (FBD) and equilibrium. Three male civil and mechanical engineering seniors were asked to think aloud as they solved the fore mentioned problem. Participants’ solutions were analyzed using two conceptual frameworks. The first framework describes a substance-based conceptual schema of force that students may have. This framework is based on the works of Reiner, Slotta, Chi and Resnick 1 and Chi 2. The second framework from the works of Steif 3 describes the common errors that students make in their solutions of Statics problems and the Statics concepts that they represent. Findings of this study show that students who got the answer incorrect made four common errors. In conjunction, when explaining the reasoning behind these errors, students talked about the force(s) as represented in the problem and solution as a substance or a material object.
The scientific principle taught in Statics is the principle of equilibrium. The primary science prerequisite to understanding the principle of equilibrium is Newtonian mechanics. An understanding of the primary concepts of force and equilibrium according to Newton’s laws lays the foundation for understanding the principle of equilibrium. According to Newtonian laws for a system to remain in equilibrium the net forces and torques have to all add up to zero.
Students are expected to draw on their conceptual understanding of Newtonian force as a platform for subsequent learning or sense-making of concepts taught in Statics such as free body diagrams (FBD) and equilibrium 4. Failure to accurately understand the concept of force may serve to confound their understanding of Statics concepts and in turn their ability to correctly apply these concepts to the solution of statics problems and or more advanced mechanical systems.
Clarke Douglas, T., & Santiago Roman, A., & Streveler, R. (2010, June), Does Conceptual Understanding Matter: Patterns Of Error In Senior Engineering Students Problem Solving In Statics? Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16714
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