June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.845.1 - 13.845.13
Learning Statics – A Foundational Approach Statics is a pivotal course, whose concepts serve as the building blocks for future courses in engineering, mechanics of solids and design in particular. There is a common disappointment among many educators in the students’ abilities to apply the concepts to design/analyze real systems in the subsequent courses. The literature review also points to several innovative teaching pedagogies to alleviate the problems. The authors’ teaching pedagogy is based on the premise that students learn more effectively when the relevance of the concepts to real world problems and a systematic improvement in their skill set is tactilely, emotionally, and rationally understood. The pedagogy uses five teaching instruments: case studies, short design examples, intelligent formulation problems, concept questions, and work sheets. The paper discusses rationale behind these instruments and its implementation with examples. The results of a student survey indicate that the five instruments had a positive influence on the learning experience.
Statics, which deals with the study of systems that are in a state of rest or uniform motion, is a fundamental course. The concepts in statics serve as the building blocks for future courses in engineering, mechanics of solids in particular. However, from our experience in teaching follow- on courses to statics, mechanics of solids, machine design, aircraft structures, aerospace and mechanical engineering capstone design courses, and finite element analysis, we found two fundamental disconnects present in some of the most popular statics textbooks: • Emphasis, perhaps overemphasis, of the role of vectors in analyzing structures. This may be attributed to a strong influence of physics in the texts. Then, the text-books in mechanics of solids do not even mention the vector concepts. • A lack of physical feel due to emphasis on structural problems. This can be attributed to a strong civil engineering influence in the texts.
These fundamental disconnects manifest themselves as lower-than-expected abilities in the students when applying the concepts to design/analyze real systems in subsequent courses. The resulting disappointment in engineering educators is well documented and common1,2.
II. Literature Review
Most recent efforts revamp the statics/mechanics curriculum by incorporating advances in computer/video/web technologies, affording a physical feel for the concepts, and fostering active learning. Kuznetsov3 developed a software-based teaching aid which reinforces concepts through an iterative learning process. It was observed that the best results were obtained when students solve program-generated realistic problems immediately after the lecture using the step-by-step method. The Web-based interactive homework assignments and quizzes were developed using Mallard. The web modules provided judgment, feedback, and help at each step. Pollack4 presents an educational intervention on a small scale case study based on conversational learning for the basic mechanics course. The concept is based on “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand”. Most students found this method of learning enjoyable. The paper provides evidence that there was an overall increase in the students’ motivation to learn. Steif and Dollár5,6,7 report the development of a web-based statics course. This
Condoor, S., & Jayaram, S., & Boyer, L. (2008, June), Learning Statics – A Foundational Approach Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4184
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