San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.574.1 - 25.574.13
Enhancing Students’ Understanding of Dynamics Concepts Through a New Concept Mapping Approach - Tree of DynamicsAbstractDynamics is a high-enrollment and high-impact, core engineering course that nearly all studentsin mechanical, aerospace, civil, biological, and biomedical engineering programs are required totake. However, dynamics is also widely regarded as one of the most difficult courses to succeedin because the course covers a broad spectrum of foundational concepts. Lacking a solidunderstanding of dynamics concepts is among the major reasons that many students performpoorly in dynamics.Concept mapping, developed upon constructivist learning theory, is a graphical representation(like a flow chart) that shows how individual concepts are related to and connected with oneanother and form large wholes. Since its development in 1972 by Joseph Novak and hiscolleagues who sought to follow and understand changes in children’s knowledge of science,concept mapping has been adopted in nearly every discipline ranging from STEM (science,technology, engineering, mathematics), psychology, and medicine to business, economics,accounting, history, and literature by institutions ranging from K-12 to undergraduate education.Engineering instructors have also applied the concept mapping technique to the teaching andlearning of dynamics concepts.This paper proposes a new concept mapping approach, called the “Tree of Dynamics,” toenhancing students’ understanding of dynamics concepts. The new approach has two uniquefeatures. First, the relationships among dynamics concepts are represented by “tree” structuresincluding roots, trunks, branches, leaves, and fruits. “Tree” structures enhance students’ intuitivecognition (perception) of the hierarchical relationships among dynamics concepts and also addfun to student learning. In the conventional concept mapping approach, linking words or phrasesare employed to represent the relationships among concepts, which requires students to havehigh skills of abstractive cognition. Second, active learning (learning by “doing”) is highlyinvolved in the new concept mapping approach. Students construct their own “trees” rather thenthe instructor constructing “trees” for students. In the conventional concept mapping approach,the instructor constructs a concept map and demonstrates it to students, and then students learnby “watching and listening,” which is essentially a way of passive learning.The “Tree of Dynamics” approach was recently implemented in an engineering dynamics courseat a large public research university. The purpose was to improve students’ understanding ofdifferences and relationships among seven key dynamics principles and to help students see the“big picture” of dynamics. A total of 76 undergraduates participated in the study. The paperpresents four representative examples of students-generated “trees.” Pre-post tests wereadministrated to measure student learning gains. The assessment results show that the averagelearning gain for all student participants was 64.2%. Compared to the average pretest score, theaverage post-test score increased 1.45 standard deviations. Among the 76 students surveyed, 54students (71%) agreed or strongly agreed that the “Tree of Dynamics” helped them understandhierarchical relationships among dynamics principles and associated equations.
Fang, N. (2012, June), Enhancing Students' Understanding of Dynamics Concepts Through a New Concept Mapping Approach: Tree of Dynamics Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/21331
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