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Identifying And Investigating Difficult Concepts In Engineering Mechanics And Electric Circuits

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Conference

2006 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Student Misconceptions and Problem Solving Abiltiy

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

13

Page Numbers

11.713.1 - 11.713.13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/948

Download Count

41

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Paper Authors

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Ruth Streveler Colorado School of Mines

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RUTH A. STREVELER is the Director of the Center for Engineering Education at the Colorado School of Mines and Research Associate Professor in Academic Affairs. Dr. Streveler holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Master of Science in Zoology from the Ohio State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Indiana University at Bloomington. She is co-principle investigator of three NSF-sponsored projects: Developing an Outcomes Assessment Instrument for Identifying Engineering Student Misconceptions in Thermal and Transport Sciences (DUE - 0127806), Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (ESI-0227558), and Rigorous Research in Engineering Education: Creating a Community of Practice (DUE-0341127).

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Monica Geist University of Northern Colorado

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MONICA R. GEIST is a doctoral student in the Applied Statistics and Research Methods program at the University of Northern Colorado. Monica has taught math at the college level for 15 years. Monica is presently conducting research on engineering student misconceptions in electrical and mechanical engineering.

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Ravel Ammerman Colorado School of Mines

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Candace Sulzbach Colorado School of Mines

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CANDACE S. SULZBACH is a Lecturer in the Division of Engineering at Colorado School of Mines and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado. She has taught for 23 years and is the Faculty Adviser for the student chapters of the Society of Women Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers and Tau Beta Pi. She also serves on the ASCE "Committee on Student Activities."

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Ronald Miller Colorado School of Mines

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RONALD L. MILLER is professor of chemical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines where he has taught chemical engineering and interdisciplinary courses and conducted research in educational methods for the past twenty years. He has received three university-wide teaching awards and has held a Jenni teaching fellowship at CSM. He has received grant awards for educational research from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education (FIPSE), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

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Barbara Olds National Science Foundation and Colorado School of Mines

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BARBARA M. OLDS is Professor of Liberal Arts and International Studies at the Colorado School of Mines. She has participated in a number of curriculum innovation projects and has been active in the engineering education and assessment communities. She was a Fulbright lecturer/researcher in Sweden in 1999. Dr. Olds is presently serving as Director of the Division of Research, Evaluation and Communication in the EHR Directorate of the National Science Foundation.

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Mary Nelson University of Colorado

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MARY A. NELSON received her Masters in Mathematics from George Mason University and her PhD in the Research and Evaluation Methods from the University of Colorado, Boulder working with Dr. Lorrie Shepard. Mary has taught math at the middle school, high school, and college levels for 35 years and is presently conducting research on three funded grants studying how to transform introductory college science and mathematics courses, how to improve the K-12 mathematics teaching, and assessing engineering student misconceptions in thermal and transport sciences.

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

Identifying and Investigating Difficult Concepts in Engineering Mechanics and Electric Circuits

Abstract

Two research questions motivated this study: “What important concepts in electric circuits and engineering mechanics do students find difficult to learn?” and “How can we describe students’ mental models of the concepts identified in question 1?” This paper discusses the process used to identify difficult concepts in engineering mechanics and electric circuits, the results of that identification process, and the results of interviews to uncover the mental models engineering students use to explain these concepts. This study, part of the Center for the Advancement in Engineering Education’s “Scholarship of Learning Engineering” element, builds on previous work in thermal and transport science and allows comparisons among difficult concepts in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering.

Introduction

The study described in this paper extends ongoing work to identify difficult concepts in thermal and transport science [12] and measure students’ understanding of those concepts via a concept inventory [5, 6, 7]. The present work focuses on two fundamental areas of engineering: engineering mechanics (statics, strength of materials, and dynamics), and electric circuits, which are complementary to thermal and transport science. Thus the study was designed with the hope that commonalities might be found among difficult concepts in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. Indeed, our results suggest that commonalities do exist at a very fundamental level.

The paper is organized into three sections. The first two sections will discuss the theoretical framework, methodology, and results of each of the two research questions. This is followed by a section which discusses implications of this work.

What important concepts in electric circuits and engineering mechanics do students find difficult to learn?

Theoretical framework

We chose to use Delphi methodology to gather expert opinions about which concepts in electric circuits and in engineering mechanics that were both important and difficult to learn. The Delphi method is a technique that elicits, refines, and draws upon the collective opinion and expertise of a panel of experts [4]. Delphi methodology has been used to elicit information and judgments from experts on anything from planning to problem-solving to decision making [2] and has been successfully used to in our prior work [12]. Four features characterize the Delphi method: anonymity, iteration, feedback, and statistical group response [10].

Methodology

Streveler, R., & Geist, M., & Ammerman, R., & Sulzbach, C., & Miller, R., & Olds, B., & Nelson, M. (2006, June), Identifying And Investigating Difficult Concepts In Engineering Mechanics And Electric Circuits Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/948

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015