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Effect of a Concept Review Intervention on the Student’s Knowledge Retention and Demonstration of Pre-requisite Fundamental Concepts

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

The 'Strengths' of Mechanics

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Gaurav Chauda Michigan State University Orcid 16x16

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Gaurav Chauda is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering Department at Michigan State University. My research interests are in Contact Mechanics, Vibrations, and Dynamics. He is currently working under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Segalman to explore the influence of friction models in jointed structures. He has also worked as Teaching Assistant for mechanics courses and vibration and dynamics lab. He has received a prestigious teaching fellowship (FAST Fellowship) from the graduate school MSU which trains graduate students for their academic career.

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Geoffrey Recktenwald Michigan State University

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Geoff Recktenwald is a member of the teaching faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. Geoff holds a PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University and Bachelor degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics from Cedarville University. His research interests are focused on best practices for student learning and student success. He is currently developing and researching SMART assessment, a modified mastery learning pedagogy for problem based courses. He created and co-teaches a multi-year integrated system design (ISD) project for mechanical engineering students. He is a mentor to mechanical engineering graduate teaching fellows and actively champions the adoption and use of teaching technologies.

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Students achieve functional knowledge retention through active, spaced repetition of concepts through homework, quizzes, and lectures. True knowledge retention is best achieved through proper comprehension of the concept. In the engineering curriculum, courses are sequenced into prerequisite chains of three to five courses per subfield –- a design aimed at developing and reinforcing core concepts over time. Knowledge retention of these prerequisite concepts is important for the next course. In this project, concept review quizzes were used to identify the gaps and deficiencies in students' prerequisite knowledge and measure improvement after a concept review intervention. Two quizzes (pre-intervention and post-intervention) drew inspiration from the standard concept inventories for fundamental concepts and include concepts such as Free Body Diagrams, Contact and Reaction Forces, Equilibrium Equations, and Calculation of the Moment. Concept inventories are typically multiple-choice, in this evaluation the concept questions were open-ended. A clear rubric was created to identify the missing prerequisite concepts in the students' knowledge.

These quizzes were deployed in Mechanics of Materials, a second-level course in the engineering mechanics curriculum (the second in a sequence of four courses: Statics, Mechanics of Materials, Mechanical Design, and Kinematic Design). The pre-quiz was administered (unannounced) at the beginning of the class. The class then actively participated in a 30-minute concept review. A different post-quiz was administered in the same class period after the review. Quizzes were graded with a rubric to measure the effect of the concept review intervention on the students’ knowledge demonstration and calculations. The study evaluated four major concepts: free body diagrams, boundary reaction forces (fixed, pin, and contact), equilibrium, and moment calculation. Students showed improvements of up to 39\% in the case of drawing a free body diagram with fixed boundary condition, but continued to struggle with free body diagram involving contact forces.

This study was performed at a large public institution in a class size of 240 students. A total of 224 students consented to the use of their data for this study (and attended class on the day of the intervention).

The pre-quiz is used to determine the gaps (or deficiencies) in conceptual understanding among students. The post-quiz measures the response to the review and is used to determine which concept deficiencies were significantly improved by the review, and which concept deficiencies were not significantly improved by the concept review.

This study presents a concept quiz and associated rubric for measuring student improvement resulting from an in-class intervention (concept review). It quantifies a significant improvement in the students’ retrieval of their prerequisite knowledge after a concept review session. This approach, therefore, has utility for improving knowledge retention in programs with a similar, sequenced course design.

Chauda, G., & Recktenwald, G. (2021, July), Effect of a Concept Review Intervention on the Student’s Knowledge Retention and Demonstration of Pre-requisite Fundamental Concepts Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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