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Knowledge Assessment In Statics: Concepts Versus Skills

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanics Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.834.1 - 9.834.10



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Paper Authors

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Scott Danielson

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

Session 1168

Knowledge Assessment in Statics: Concepts versus skills

Scott Danielson

Arizona State University


Following the lead of the physics community, engineering faculty have recognized the value of good assessment instruments for evaluating the learning of their students. These assessment instruments can be used to both measure student learning and to evaluate changes in teaching, i.e., did student-learning increase due different ways of teaching. As a result, there are significant efforts underway to develop engineering subject assessment tools. For instance, the Foundation Coalition is supporting assessment tool development efforts in a number of engineering subjects. These efforts have focused on developing “concept” inventories. These concept inventories focus on determining student understanding of the subject’s fundamental concepts.

Separately, a NSF-supported effort to develop an assessment tool for statics was begun in the last year by the authors. As a first step, the project team analyzed prior work aimed at delineating important knowledge areas in statics. They quickly recognized that these important knowledge areas contained both conceptual and “skill” components. Both knowledge areas are described and examples of each are provided. Also, a cognitive psychology-based taxonomy of declarative and procedural knowledge is discussed in relation to determining the difference between a concept and a skill.

Subsequently, the team decided to focus on development of a concept-based statics assessment tool. The ongoing Delphi process to refine the inventory of important statics concepts and validate the concepts with a broader group of subject matter experts is described. However, the value and need for a skills-based assessment tool is also recognized. Thus, initial efforts to delineate concepts and skills in statics are discussed, including an initial inventory of these concepts and skills.


Statics is the first course in a series of courses within the broader subject area commonly referred to as engineering science for virtually all engineering and engineering technology students. It is a fundamental course prerequisite for other important courses like dynamics and strength of materials. Success in these latter courses is directly correlated to success in statics.1

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Danielson, S. (2004, June), Knowledge Assessment In Statics: Concepts Versus Skills Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13185

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