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Results of an Intro to Mechanics Course Designed to Support Student Success in Physics I and Foundational Engineering Courses

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

First-year Programs: Core Skills

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

15

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35157

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35157

Download Count

167

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Paper Authors

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Gustavo B. Menezes California State University, Los Angeles

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Menezes is a Professor of Civil Engineering at Cal State LA. His specialization is in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering. Since becoming part of the faculty in 2009, Menezes has also focused on improving student success and has led a number of engineering education projects. He is currently the Director of the First-Year Experience program at ECST (FYrE@ECST) and coordinates engineering education activities at the college of engineering, computer science and technology (ECST).

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Paul S. Nerenberg California State University, Los Angeles

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Dr. Paul S. Nerenberg is currently an Assistant Professor of Physics and Biology at California State University, Los Angeles. He received his PhD in Physics from MIT and has a strong interest in improving the quality of introductory physics education, particularly for students who enter college with little or no previous physics coursework.

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Ni Li Northwestern Polytechnical University

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Ni Li, Ph.D., was an Assistant Professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles. Now, she is working in the school of Aeronautics at Northwestern Polytechnical University as a professor. She earned her BS in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an, China, and her MS in Electrical Engineering, MS in Aerospace Engineering, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Central Florida. She previously served as a lecturer at University of Central Florida.

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Emily L. Allen California State University, Los Angeles

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Emily L. Allen, Ph.D., is Dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology at California State University, Los Angeles. She believes in a collaborative, student-centered approach to research, education, academic administration and leadership. She currently chairs the ASEE Engineering Deans Council Diversity Committee, and serves on the ABET Academic Affairs Council, the TMS Accreditation Committee, and the National Board of Directors for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Dr. Allen earned her BS in metallurgy and materials science from Columbia University, and her MS and PhD in materials science and engineering from Stanford University. She previously served as faculty, chair and Associate Dean at San Jose State University's College of Engineering.

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Abstract

This complete evidence-based practice paper discusses the strategies and results of an introduction to mechanics course, designed to prepare students for introductory-level physics and other fundamental courses in engineering, such as statics, strength of materials, and dynamics. The course was developed to address historically high failure (DFW) rates in the physics courses and is part of a set of interventions implemented to support student success in a college of engineering and computer science. The course focuses on providing in-depth understanding of Newton’s Laws of motion, free-body diagrams, and linear and projectile motion. Because it focuses on a limited number of competencies, it is possible to spend more time on inquiry-based activities and in-class discussions. The course framework was designed considering the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, to provide students with learning opportunities in 6-day cycles: (i) day 1: a pre-class learning activity (reading or video) and a quiz; (ii) day 2: in-class Kahoot low-stakes quiz with discussion, a short lecture with embedded time for problem-solving and discussion, and in-class activities (labs, group projects); (iii) day 4: homework due two days after the class; (iv) day 6: homework self-reflection (autopsy based on provided solutions) two days after homework is due. The assessment of course performance is based on the well-characterized force concept inventory (FCI) exam that is administered before the intro to mechanics course and both before and after the Physics I course; and on student performance (grades) in Physics and Statics courses. Results from the FCI pre-test show that students who took the introduction to mechanics course (treatment group) started the physics course with a much better understanding of force concepts than other students in the course. The FCI post-test shows better normalized gain for the treatment group, compared to other students, which is also aligned with student performance in the course. Additionally, student performance is significantly better in statics, with 25% DWF rate compared to 50% for the other students. In summary, the framework of the course, which focuses on providing students with in-depth understanding of force concepts, has led to better learning and performance in Physics I, but importantly it has also helped students achieve better performance in the Statics course, the first fundamental course in civil and mechanical engineering programs.

Menezes, G. B., & Nerenberg, P. S., & Li, N., & Allen, E. L. (2020, June), Results of an Intro to Mechanics Course Designed to Support Student Success in Physics I and Foundational Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35157

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015