June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Educational Research and Methods
15.1222.1 - 15.1222.10
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
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