Asee peer logo

The Effect Of An Integrated Dynamics And Statics Course On The Progress And Pathways Of Mechanical Engineering Students

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Conceptual Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1222.1 - 15.1222.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Marisa Orr Clemson University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Marisa K. Orr is a doctoral candidate in the Mechanical Engineering program at Clemson University. She is a research assistant in the Department of Engineering and Science Education and is a member of the inaugural class of the Engineering and Science Education Certificate at Clemson University. As an Endowed Teaching Fellow, she received the Departmental Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for teaching Integrated Statics and Dynamics for Mechanical Engineers. Her research involves analysis of the effects of student-centered active learning in sophomore engineering courses, and investigation of the career motivations of women and men as they relate to engineering.

visit author page


Lisa Benson Clemson University

visit author page

Lisa C. Benson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Bioengineering. Dr. Benson teaches first year engineering, undergraduate research methods, and graduate engineering education courses. Her research interests include student-centered active learning in undergraduate engineering, assessment of motivation, and how motivation affects student learning. She is also involved in projects that utilize Tablet PCs to enhance student learning. Her education includes a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

visit author page


Sherrill Biggers Clemson University

visit author page

Sherrill B. Biggers is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University. He has over 29 years of experience in teaching engineering mechanics, including statics, dynamics, and strength of materials at two universities. His technical research is in the computational mechanics and optimal design of advanced composite structures. He developed advanced structural mechanics design methods in the aerospace industry for over 10 years. Recently he has also contributed to research being conducted in engineering education. He received teaching awards at Clemson and the University of Kentucky. He has been active in curriculum and course development over the past 20 years. He received his BS in Civil Engineering from NC State University and his MS and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Duke University.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

The Effect of an Integrated Dynamics and Statics Course on the Progress and Pathways of Mechanical Engineering Students


At Clemson University, the three-credit statics and dynamics courses required for mechanical engineers have been combined into one integrated, five-credit active-learning course where statics is taught as a special case of dynamics. Beichner’s SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs) instructional format has been adapted to help make optimal use of limited calendar time and promote conceptual understanding. The goal of these changes was to provide more effective instruction, to improve passing rates, and to provide better and more timely preparation for subsequent courses in the mechanical systems stem of the program. Prior studies have shown that the course has resulted in increased average normalized gains on Statics and Dynamics Concept Inventories. For this study, we turn our attention to the curricular effects of the new course, including enrollment, retention, progression, and completion rates of the statics and dynamics course sequence.

Students in both the old and new curricula (n= 316 and 366, respectively) were tracked to glean information about the paths students take as they progress through their degree program and the effects that the new integrated course has had on these paths. For each student, the number of attempts and grades for the courses of interest were recorded.

Results indicate that the same proportion of students pass the integrated dynamics and statics course on their first attempt as pass both the separate courses on their first attempt at Clemson University (p< 0.05). Students in the new curriculum are also less likely to quit before completing the course sequence (p<0.05). As expected, it takes students fewer attempts to pass the new course than to pass both the old courses. Combining this with our previous findings that students in the new integrated curriculum show improved conceptual gains and earn better grades in a follow-on course (even when controlling for incoming grade point ratios) indicates that this curricular change has made a positive impact on student success.


In 2006, a new curriculum was implemented for students enrolling in mechanical engineering (ME) at Clemson University. The most significant change was the integration of statics and dynamics into one five-credit active-learning course where statics is taught as a special case of dynamics. The primary goal of the integration was to improve conceptual understanding of mechanics principles by placing statics in the context of dynamics. Students must first determine whether a problem is static or dynamic, a skill that is often overlooked in separate courses. An additional benefit is that teaching dynamics concepts in the first semester of the sophomore year allows the second semester courses to put these concepts into practice.

Previous work1-4 has shown that students in the integrated class performed as well as students in a statics class on the Statics Concept Inventory5 and as well as students in a dynamics class on the Dynamics Concept Inventory6. Still, such a challenging course has a large percentage of

Orr, M., & Benson, L., & Biggers, S. (2010, June), The Effect Of An Integrated Dynamics And Statics Course On The Progress And Pathways Of Mechanical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16012

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: © 2010 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