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Evolution Of An Introductory Dynamics Course Through Continuous Assessment

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanics Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.545.1 - 8.545.8



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Paper Authors

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Redfield Robin

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Robert Borchert

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Brian Self

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1168

Evolution of an Introductory Dynamics Course Through Continuous Assessment

Brian P. Self, PhD, Robert Borchert, M.S., and Robin Redfield, PhD

Department of Engineering Mechanics United States Air Force Academy Colorado Springs, Colorado


Two years ago, instructors at the United States Air Force Academy supplemented their introductory dynamics class with demonstrations, projects, laboratories, computational problems, and student presentations. Goals of the enhancement were to increase motivation and understanding, and also to make the class more enjoyable for the students. Labs included a rocket launch, a lego car design project, and a catapult launch. While these labs increased the motivation and enjoyment in the class, there is a danger of overloading the students with projects and decreasing the coverage of critical material. Extensive surveys were completed after each semester by both the instructors and the students, and appropriate changes to the course were made. The surveys consisted of the typical student critiques, followed by thirty additional questions. Some were multiple choice, while many were open ended. More in-depth feedback was obtained by the use of a Student Management Team (SMT) and a focus group. The SMT was a group of 6-8 students that met every 3-4 lessons, and provided feedback on course progress. The group was sometimes tasked with specific objectives (e.g., review the upcoming project), and other times simply commented on student perspectives on the recent material or assignment. The focus group met at the end of the semester and was given ten major questions to address. Both groups were held outside of regular class time, and participation was completely voluntary. Through the constant use of assessment, we have been able to fine tune our introductory course in dynamics to a challenging, yet enjoyable course.


Several different new projects and techniques were introduced in our introductory dynamics class two years ago. The main goal was to increase motivation and understanding for one of the most challenging of all engineering courses. These projects were discussed in detail previously (Self and Redfield, 2001), but included a model rocket launch, computational mechanics projects, a

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Robin, R., & Borchert, R., & Self, B. (2003, June), Evolution Of An Introductory Dynamics Course Through Continuous Assessment Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11817

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