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Exploration of Expert and Novice Reasoning in Mechanics of Solids

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

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Johanna Paulette Doukakis Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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Johanna P. Doukakis is an Interdisciplinary Studies Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University as well as an adjunct professor at Drexel Univerisity. She received her BS in Civil Engineering and MS in Structural Engineering from Rutgers University. Her research interests focus on how expert engineers reason and how this can be used to better facilitate student learning.

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Mechanics of Solids, has become the bridge and bond between elementary and specialized knowledge for engineering students. Although categorized as a basic course, engineering mechanics, and MOS specifically, differ from truly fundamental subjects. Mechanics is closer to engineering applications, unlike subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy and geography. It is distinct from the purely technological areas because of its strict system of logic. Due to this, and partly because of the large number of concepts and formulas that the students need to learn, MOS has been regarded as one of the most difficult undergraduate courses at Rutgers University. This has been validated by a two-tail t-test with an α=.05 comparing the average D,W,F percentage spanning ten semesters for MOS at 30.1% which was determined to be statistically significantly higher than any other course offerings from the department with the next closest average D,W,F percentage for ten semesters of Elements of Structures at 10.6% (p = .000531). An exploratory case study using qualitative methods will be performed in an attempt to add to the already established body of knowledge. The purpose of this study is to identify patterns in the way expert and novice engineers approach problems to better inform future research in the field of engineering mechanics. This research is categorized as an embedded single case study, and thus has multiple units of analysis, the expert and the novice. The expert participants will be subdivided into two categories, academia (professors) and industry (practicing engineers). The novice participants consist of the students from the **** School of Engineering who are enrolled in a civil engineering specific mechanics of solids course as well as students who have recently completed the course. Subjects will be observed while they attempt to solve a difficult conceptual engineering problem. The two tools used to collect data are the think aloud protocol and interviews. This study will be combining the data analysis procedures from both thematic analysis and the think aloud method. Data is currently being collected as per the above methodology. Preliminary data analysis will be available in time for the 2018 ASEE Annual Conference.

Doukakis, J. P. (2018, June), Exploration of Expert and Novice Reasoning in Mechanics of Solids Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah.

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