June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Educational Research and Methods
13.680.1 - 13.680.18
Identifying and Remediating Difficulties with Problem-solving in Statics
The work described in this paper is part of a multi-year study that seeks to enhance students’ ability to create ‘models’ successfully as they solve problems in Statics. The ultimate goal of the study is to understand the major difficulties that students encounter as they learn to model during problem-solving in Statics and to create interventions to help them more quickly overcome those difficulties. In the first phase of the study, more than 300 students completed three inventories: math skills, spatial reasoning and statics concepts. The results from the inventories were used to identify clusters of students with common characteristics, and therefore, presumably common deficiencies in their problem solving in Statics. Students from each cluster were then invited to participate in think-aloud problem solving sessions to identify the weaknesses in their problem solving. Analysis of the think-aloud sessions identified a number of common issues in students’ knowledge and ability to create models, which are summarized in the paper. Based on these findings, the research team identified possible interventions to address the common issues. Two of these interventions were developed through a design experiments process in which they were tested with groups of up to 30 students, refined to enhance their effectiveness, and then re-tested. The interventions and the development process are described, and results from the final round of the design experiments are presented.
The work described in this paper is part of an on-going study of problem solving in Statics. 1,2 The work is being done in Statics classes because it is one of the first places that engineering students encounter the engineering problem-solving process. In this study we are paying particular attention to the early steps in problem-solving when students ‘model’ the system being studied to create a set of equations describing the system. In Statics students typically read a problem statement and then create a model of the system, the free-body diagram, which contains all of the salient forces on the body. Then, based on the free-body diagram, they create a mathematical model of the system.
The current phase of the work is aimed at answering two main questions about the modeling processes: What are the major difficulties that students encounter when they perform modeling during problem-solving? What instructional interventions will address these problems and improve engineering students’ modeling during problem-solving? In the current phase of the work, interventions that are developed will be tested in a full-scale experimental design.
Clearly there are many different ways in which students can go wrong as they solve problems in Statics. They may, for example, have inadequate knowledge of the forces and moments for particular types of connections, an inability to visualize forces, or inadequate math skills. Our working hypothesis is that students will cluster into different groups based on their abilities and knowledge, and that these groups will demonstrate differing abilities to solve Statics problems.
Litzinger, T., & Firetto, C., & Passmore, L., & Van Meter, P., & Higley, K., & Masters, C. B., & Costanzo, F., & Gray, G. L., & Turns, S., & Kulikowich, J. (2008, June), Identifying And Remediating Deficiencies In Problem Solving In Statics Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3286
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