New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Engineering Physics & Physics
Some Fundamental Laws of Physics remain elusive even to graduate engineering students, as they cannot understand them well enough to apply them correctly to most situations. Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion is one of them, as this present study shows. The “Force Concept Inventory” (FCI)1 questionnaire was given as a pre-assessment at the beginning of the “Scientific Foundations of Engineering” course, which is part of the Gordon Engineering Leadership program and aspires to deepen the understanding of the fundamental laws of science that underlie all engineering disciplines, and after a 2.5-hour session on reviewing mechanics, part of which focused on the conceptual understanding of Newton’s Laws of Motion, the same questionnaire was given as post-assessment. The students showed remarkable improvement. The results of this study and the pedagogical approach used, which the author has developed over a number of years as part of Professional Development courses for Middle and High School STEM Teachers, will be presented and discussed. This approach is consistent with the research findings on How People Learn.
Although it is encouraging to see such a great improvement in the students’ understanding of the laws of motion after only a couple of hours of interactive teaching, what is of even greater interest is to see if the teaching approach that was used was adequate to reverse the students’ misconceptions regarding Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion permanently or if with time the students fall back to their preconceptions. This will be verified or disproved via a delayed post-assessment using the same questionnaire as before, which will be administered to the same graduate students eight months later, just before they finish the academic year. These additional results will be presented, analyzed and discussed in the paper.
Footnotes: 1. Force Concept Inventory, D. Hesthenes, M. Wells & G. Swackhamer, The Physics Teacher, Vol. 30, pp. 141-158 (March 1992) 2. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (Expanded Edition), National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. (2000)
Zahopoulos, C. (2016, June), Newton’s Third Law of Motion: Elusive Even Among Graduate Engineering Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25798
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