Asee peer logo

Downstream Impact of an Active-Learning-Based Engineering Physics - Mechanics Course

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Timothy J. Garrison York College of Pennsylvania

visit author page

Timothy Garrison is Chair of the Engineering and Computer Science Department

visit author page

Download Paper |


Downstream Impact of an Active-Learning-Based Engineering Physics - Mechanics Course

At the 2014 and 2015 Annual ASEE conferences, the author presented papers on a completely restructured engineering physics (mechanics) course. The traditional physics course structure, consisting of a separate lecture (3 hrs three times per week), laboratory (3 hrs once a week) and recitation (1.5 hours once a week), was discarded in favor of a single, blended class meeting 2.5 hours three times per week. Moreover, the new class was designed to operate as a fully active learning course (i.e. without any lecture) by making use of several active learning methods including peer instruction (aka think-pair-share) and interactive, peer laboratories. The restructured course was assessed using the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) assessment test, given on the first and last days of class. Results from the FCI test show that the overall gain in performance increased from 12% to 33% as a result of the combined effects of these changes. Additionally, the overall pass rate for the course (grade of “C” or better) increased from 52% to 74%. While these results are very positive, it is productive to explore the longer-term effects of this restructuring. In particular, did the students taking the restructured course do better in the follow-on courses (E&M Physics and Statics) than the students who took the course in its original format? Alternately, does the increased gain on the FCI test result in better conceptual understanding that carries through to future uses of the material. The author has collected the necessary data to explore this by tracking the performance of four year's worth of students (a total of about 300 students) that took the course in the restructured format as compared to a similar number of students that took the course in the original format. The performance of those two groups of students in follow-on courses is currently being compared and the paper will describe the results of this study. (The data are currently being processed and will be complete in time for the submission of the full paper.)

Garrison, T. J. (2017, June), Downstream Impact of an Active-Learning-Based Engineering Physics - Mechanics Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28192

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: © 2017 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