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Math Statics Baseline (Msb) Test: Phase I

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanics Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.840.1 - 7.840.8



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Paper Authors

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Scott Danielson

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Sudhir Mehta

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

Main Menu Session 2268

Math-Statics Baseline (MSB) Test: Phase I

Sudhir Mehta, Scott Danielson North Dakota State University/Arizona State University East


Assessing student learning is important to engineering educators for a number of well-known reasons. While methodologies exist, they are often either time intensive or provide only aggregate data at the end of a degree program. While physics instructors have access to several assessment tools validated for introductory physics, none have been identified for engineering science subjects. This paper describes a Math-Statics Baseline Test that probes math topics typically used in statics as well as specific statics topics. Pre- and post-course test data for over 240 statics students and pre-course data for 250 dynamics and strength of materials students are reported and discussed. Several surprising results are discovered.


Engineering and engineering technology educators face a significant task in adjusting to an outcomes-based environment, one, in part, driven by the new accreditation requirements adopted by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET, 2000). Demonstrated proof of student learning and mastery of engineering concepts are now required. As one response, significant effort is being made to assess student outcomes via faculty teams reviewing capstone course materials or student portfolios. Another common approach has been to use relatively broad and generalized results from licensure or certification, e.g., the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, administered by various organizations. Unfortunately, these tests have been developed for other purposes and results are available only in aggregate fashion (typically by school). In addition, they are administered at the end of the educational process and do not provide any immediate feedback to either students or engineering faculty. Also, not all students take these exams so the sample group has limitations.

Also, there are no published tools available for assessing student learning in critical engineering courses. While there are more subject specific tests available, they do not work well for engineering faculty. For instance, the Force Concept Inventory and the Mechanics Baseline probe student understanding of Newtonian physics (Hestenes, Wells, & Swackhamer, 1992; Hestenes & Wells, 1992). These tools have seen much use by physics educators to assess student learning and knowledge retention. Of more interest to engineering educators, two tests are reported (Snyder & Meriam, 1978; Negahban, 1998) for assessing the mathematics preparation of students in engineering mechanics classes. Development of well-designed and validated engineering specific subject tests is an important issue for assessment within engineering education. Such tools have two major uses within education.

First, such tools allow assessment of individual student knowledge at the beginning and end of a class and at the beginning of other classes for which the class is prerequisite. Students, faculty, departments, and institutional administrators will all receive benefits from this direct

"Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education"

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Danielson, S., & Mehta, S. (2002, June), Math Statics Baseline (Msb) Test: Phase I Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10614

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