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Student Self-Explanation When Solving a Rigid Body Kinetics Concept Question

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2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting


Tempe, Arizona

Publication Date

April 20, 2017

Start Date

April 20, 2017

End Date

April 22, 2017

Conference Session

Technical Session 3d

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Pacific Southwest Section

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Paper Authors


Julia Roche California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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I am currently pursuing my Bachelor's of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. My interests span a variety of things including engineering outreach, hands-on activities, machine shop, pottery, running, and riding my bike! I will be entering the medical device field after graduation in June 2017.

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Brian P. Self California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Brian Self obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Utah. He worked in the Air Force Research Laboratories before teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy for seven years. Brian has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo since 2006. During the 2011-2012 academic year he participated in a professor exchange, teaching at the Munich University of Applied Sciences. His engineering education interests include collaborating on the Dynamics Concept Inventory, developing model-eliciting activities in mechanical engineering courses, inquiry-based learning in mechanics, and design projects to help promote adapted physical activities. Other professional interests include aviation physiology and biomechanics.

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James M Widmann California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Jim Widmann is a professor of mechanical engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He received his Ph.D. in 1994 from Stanford University and has served as a Fulbright Scholar at Kathmandu University it Nepal. At Cal Poly, he coordinates the departments industry sponsored senior project class and teaches mechanics and design courses. He also conducts research in the areas of creative design, machine design, fluid power control, and engineering education.

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The purpose of this ongoing research is to increase conceptual understanding of dynamics using Instructional-Based Learning Activities (IBLAs). IBLAs allow students to participate in hands-on activities where they are presented with a physical scenario that challenges their conceptual understanding of physics principles. Students first make individual predictions and then discuss their predictions with their peers (and “vote” again). They test their conceptions using a physical artifact (although simulations could be used for this), letting the physical world be the authority rather than just the word of the instructor. The teams then fill out a worksheet that helps them try to explain what they have observed. Two to three additional scenarios are then presented to provide further practice on applying important dynamics concepts. By participating in IBLAs, students should increase their conceptual understanding and repair their misconceptions of critical dynamics concepts.

At our institution, a common final is implemented for the undergraduate dynamics students at the end of each quarter. During the Winter Quarter 2016, some classes participated in a specific Spool IBLA while other classes did not. The Spool IBLA allowed students to investigate the dynamic behavior of a rolling rigid body. A common demonstration among dynamics instructors, the spool is used to examine the relationship between linear acceleration, force, angular acceleration, moments, and friction. On the common final, a spool question asking the directions of motion and of the friction force was given. Students had to both find the nominal answer to the question as well as write out their justification for their answer. The aim of this report is to compare the responses from students who participated in the Spool IBLA with those students who did not.

Roche, J., & Self, B. P., & Widmann, J. M. (2017, April), Student Self-Explanation When Solving a Rigid Body Kinetics Concept Question Paper presented at 2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, Tempe, Arizona. 10.18260/1-2--29235

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