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How Students React To Formulations Of The Straight Line Used In Engineering Courses

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.289.1 - 4.289.8

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Paper Authors

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Josue Njock-Libii

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

Session 3365

How Students React to Formulations of the Straight Line Used in Engineering Courses

Josué Njock Libii* Mechanical Engineering Department Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, New York, 14623-5604 e-mail:


Straight lines are used to model and illustrate a variety of concepts in engineering courses. The formulations that are used depend upon the model or the concept that is being presented. However, some formulations are more difficult for students to recognize, to understand, and to use than others. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate four different formulations of the straight line in a variety of engineering courses and show the difficulties that student typically encounter in using them.

I. Introduction

When one teaches the same course over a period of time, one notices that different classes of students experience the same type of difficulties with certain sections or concepts of the material that forms the content of the course. A habit of noting what these sections and the related concepts are can be useful when the instructor wishes to revise the way and the order in which the subjects are presented.

Straight lines are used in a variety of purposes in engineering courses. These include the formulation and illustration of natural and empirical laws, curve fitting using linear regression, linear interpolation of data, and the modeling of a variety of behaviors over short intervals. Accordingly, different features are emphasized for different purposes.

Four features of the straight line that are commonly encountered are the following: 1)A line that is uniquely defined by two distinct points through which it passes. 2)A line that is uniquely defined by specifying one point through which it passes and a direction. 3)A line that has zero curvature everywhere along its length.

• On sabbatical leave from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46815-1499

Njock-Libii, J. (1999, June), How Students React To Formulations Of The Straight Line Used In Engineering Courses Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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