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Student performance on drawing Free Body Diagrams and the effect on Problem Solving

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division - Visualization and Mathematics

Tagged Divisions

First-Year Programs and Mathematics

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Paper Authors


Jeffrey A. Davis Grant MacEwan University

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Dr Davis obtained his PhD at ETH Zurich specializing in numerical simulation of multiphase flow. With a passion for teaching, Dr. Davis' research focuses on pedagogical topics such as student engagement, active learning, and cognitive development. Projects he is currently working on include “Development of a risk assessment model for the retention of students”, “Development of Student Assessment Software”, and “Improving Student Engagement through Active Learning”.

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Shelley Lorimer P.Eng. Grant MacEwan University

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Shelley Lorimer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Grant MacEwan University. She is an instructor in the introductory engineering courses (statics, dynamics and engineering computing) as well. The engineering program at MacEwan has grown from forty students since in started more than twenty years ago to the current 216 students. The majority of the students in the program transfer to second year engineering at the University of Alberta.

Shelley is a graduate of the University of Alberta in engineering and is a registered professional engineer with APEGA (Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta). Prior to her career at MacEwan, Shelley worked in industry as a research engineer and a consulting engineer for several years.

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Using data involving free-body diagrams on final exams from a first year Mechanics I course, a broadly defined rubric was created which assesses free body diagrams in six separate categories: overall quality, forces/moments, body, axes, dimensions, and resulting equations. Data from 238 free-body diagrams and equilibrium equations were then assessed. Results of the study found that 45% of the equilibrium equations had errors in them of which 67% of those errors were a direct result of errors from the free-body diagrams. Quantitative data on frequency and types of errors found in students’ free-body diagrams are provided and discussed.

Davis, J. A., & Lorimer, S. (2018, June), Student performance on drawing Free Body Diagrams and the effect on Problem Solving Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31013

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