June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.878.1 - 15.878.14
Mode of Failure Analysis of Student Responses to Pre-Requisite Knowledge Assessments in Fluid Mechanics
In Mechanical Engineering, and in particular in Fluid Mechanics, advanced concepts build extensively on a student’s understanding of both Mathematics and their core Mechanical Engineering courses (Statics, Dynamics, Solid Mechanics). Within these core courses are a number of central concepts and skills which form threads that connect one content area to another within a discipline. An incomplete understanding in any of one of these concepts at an early stage in a student’s education can lead to a cascade of failures or difficulties that resonate throughout their education. The current research has identified and mapped a number of central content and skill trajectories that are present in engineering education, focusing on science and mathematics content and skills. Student competency in these content and skills has been assessed along these trajectories for selected classes. Common student errors within these assessments have been identified and classified to generate a profile of the error modes for each topic. Validation of the error modes has been conducted through inter-rater reliability studies and student interviews.
Trends and insight in to student difficulties with pre-requisite knowledge and an early curricular profile of issues with pre-requisite knowledge in Mechanical Engineering will be presented. Knowledge about the modes of failure (error) and the overall success or failure of content and skill trajectories will permit focused attention on teaching practices and the development and assessment of activities and learning materials aimed at developing long-term improvement of the student knowledge base. Through this research we are beginning to gain an understanding of student performance at various stages of a content or skill trajectory and we are able to examine the structure of the curriculum and determine where learning and transfer breaks down.
Introduction: Content and Skill Trajectories
In engineering education there are a number of central concepts and skills that form threads which connect one content area to another within a discipline. These threads generally consist of basic or simple concepts and are central to a student’s engineering education because they form the scaffold upon which higher-order knowledge constructed. The recurrence of these threads throughout a curriculum or program of study is referred to as a trajectory.
One aspect of these recurring concepts and skills is that they may enter a given class or subject at a variety of different levels ranging from “central to the development of concepts” to “tool oriented”. In addition, when these trajectories are used to support advanced content their development need not follow a logical progression within an advanced course since they are considered pre-requisite knowledge: a student may use the concept in a sophisticated manner in one class and then simply as a tool in a later class. An incomplete understanding in any of one of these concepts at an early stage in a student’s education can lead to a cascade of failures or difficulties that resonate throughout their education. Since construction of new knowledge is built using these concepts, the inability to immediately and accurately apply these central
Benson, D., & Cheng, A., & Dalrymple, O. (2010, June), Mode Of Failure Analysis Of Student Responses To Pre Requisite Knowledge Assessments In Fluid Mechanics Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16284
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