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Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Virtual Pulley Inquiry-Based Learning Activity on Increasing Student Understanding of Newton’s Second Law

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Conference

2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption"

Location

Virtual

Publication Date

April 23, 2021

Start Date

April 23, 2021

End Date

April 25, 2021

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38231

Download Count

12

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Paper Authors

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Megan N Phillips California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Megan Phillips is a fourth-year student at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Mechanical Design. She is minoring in German and Entrepreneurship and expects to graduate in March 2022. She has been working as a learning assistant for the Department of Mechanical Engineering at California Polytechnic State University since September 2019, where she works to assist student learning in undergraduate dynamics classes and participates in research to improve student understanding of complex dynamics concepts.

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Maggie Nevrly Cal Poly SLO

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Mechanical Engineering student interested in engineering education and social justice.

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Brian P. Self California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Brian Self obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Utah. He worked in the Air Force Research Laboratories before teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy for seven years. Brian has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo since 2006. During the 2011-2012 academic year he participated in a professor exchange, teaching at the Munich University of Applied Sciences. His engineering education interests include collaborating on the Dynamics Concept Inventory, developing model-eliciting activities in mechanical engineering courses, inquiry-based learning in mechanics, and design projects to help promote adapted physical activities. Other professional interests include aviation physiology and biomechanics.

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Michaella Ochotorena California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Michaella Ochotorena is currently pursuing her B.S. in General Engineering with an individualized course of study in Sustainable Energy from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She has been helping to develop interactive and inquiry-based learning activities for mechanics courses. Additionally, she is working in the Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering Department researching thermal comfort and its relationship to energy usage and student success.

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Nathalia De Souza California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Nathalia De Souza is a second-year Aerospace Engineering student (B.S.) at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. She obtained her A.A. in Math and Science at West Hills College, Lemoore in 2019. Nathalia currently works as a research assistant for the Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering Department and is also pursuing a minor in Ethnic Studies. Her engineering education interests include researching the gap in performance and between white students and students of color. Her professional interests include aerospace design and manufacturing as well as space policy.

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Eileen W. Rossman P.E. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Eileen Rossman has a worked in various industries for over 14 years before starting a career teaching engineering. Here industry experience includes field support for Navy Nuclear refueling with Westinghouse, analysis and programming of pipeline flow solutions with Stoner Associates, and design of elevator structures and drive components with Schindler Elevator.

Since 2002, Eileen has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University. Her teaching experience includes Basic and Intermediate Fluids, Basic and Intermediate Dynamics, Statics, Machine Design, and Thermal Measurements.

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Abstract

In undergraduate mechanics classes, students tend to struggle with the application of Newton’s Second Law to complex problems. When students in an undergraduate dynamics class were asked to use Newton’s Second Law to evaluate a concept question about pulleys, 40% of the students answered it correctly. The students were also asked two simpler, pre-test problems to evaluate their ability to apply Newton’s Second Law to less complex situations. Only 50% and 70% of students answered these two pre-test problems correctly. While this is better than the 40% of students who answered the complex pulley problem correctly, these numbers still show a large gap in students’ overall understanding. To address the low percentage of students who correctly answered the questions associated with Newton’s Second Law, we used a virtual inquiry-based learning activity (IBLA) involving pulleys. The goal of the IBLA is to increase student understanding through a series of questions that guide them to the correct understanding and application of Newton’s Second Law. The IBLA involved videos demonstrating different “cases” of modified Atwood machines. Each “case” asked for student predictions for how the system would accelerate and for free response explanations for their answers. We are currently in the process of analyzing the number of questions the students answered correctly and the thought processes behind their answers for each case. This will show us how the IBLA improved student performance and corrected flaws in student reasoning patterns. We expect the student performance in post-IBLA questions to be significantly higher than the student performance in the pre-IBLA questions.

Phillips, M. N., & Nevrly, M., & Self, B. P., & Ochotorena, M., & De Souza, N., & Rossman, E. W. (2021, April), Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Virtual Pulley Inquiry-Based Learning Activity on Increasing Student Understanding of Newton’s Second Law Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption", Virtual. https://peer.asee.org/38231

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