Asee peer logo

Should Kinetics Follow Kinematics? Only In The Dictionary!

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Improving Statics and Dynamics

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1116.1 - 10.1116.12

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Phillip Cornwell

author page

Richard Layton

Download Paper |

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

Session 3268

Should Kinetics follow Kinematics? Only in the Dictionary!

Phillip J. Cornwell, Richard A. Layton Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


The majority of dynamics textbooks are organized with an almost identical ordering of topics. This ordering is generally particle kinematics, particle kinetics, rigid body kinematics, rigid body kinetics, 3-D kinematics and kinetics and finally vibrations. There are a few textbooks that introduce more fully the concept of kinematics, including both particle and rigid body kinematics prior to the discussion of kinetics principles, but to the authors’ knowledge no book starts with an extensive discussion of kinetics prior to kinematics. At Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology we have taken the approach of introducing the kinetics principles in the larger context of conservation principles, that is, conservation of mass, charge, linear momentum, angular momentum and energy using only very basic kinematics. Only after all of the kinetics principles are clearly understood are additional kinematics topics discussed. This approach is currently part of a sophomore curriculum where the concepts of conservation and accounting permeate a sequence of courses and assessment results indicate improved student learning. The purpose of this paper is to present a case for how and why a dynamics instructor teaching a conventional course might adopt this approach.

I. Review of dynamics textbooks

There are a large number of textbooks designed for use in introductory dynamics courses and the ordering of topics can be categorized in primarily two ways as shown in Table 1. The books using Ordering #1 as shown in Table 1 include those by Hibbeler1, Boresi and Schmidt2, Jong and Rogers3, Beer and Johnston4, Meriam and Kraige5, Sandor6, Shames7, Bedford and Fowler8, and Soutas-Little and Inman9. Although there are some variations among these books, for example, some include a chapter on systems of particles, their ordering of the topics is essentially identical. This ordering is: particle kinematics followed by particle kinetics followed by rigid body kinematics followed by rigid body kinetics. Ordering #2 is used in the dynamics book by Riley and Sturges10. In this book kinematics, including both rigid body and particle kinematics, is presented prior to the discussion of kinetics principles. The authors are unaware of any books that begin with a discussion of kinetics prior to kinematics. The closest is the book by Pytel, Gosling, and Kiusalaas11. In this book the first chapter on particle dynamics integrates kinematics and kinetics. They state in the preface that “We found this arrangement superior to the traditional approach of devoting the opening chapter exclusively to kinematics. Introducing the student immediately to practical problems, where the equations of motion are derived and not given, provides a stronger motivation for learning.” The authors agree with this statement, but would take it further. All of the kinetics principles should be discussed prior to an extensive discussion of kinematics!

Cornwell, P., & Layton, R. (2005, June), Should Kinetics Follow Kinematics? Only In The Dictionary! Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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: © 2005 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