Asee peer logo

Toward a Multi-Dimensional Taxonomy for Statics Problem Classification and Problem-Solving

Download Paper |


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

Enhancing the Statics Classroom

Tagged Division


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Ruth E. H. Wertz Valparaiso University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Wertz is an Assistant Professor of General Engineering at Valparaiso University, located in Valparaiso Indiana. She has earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Trine University, a M.S. in Civil Engineering from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education also from Purdue University. Dr. Wertz is a registered professional engineer with over 5 years of industry experience in Geotechnical Engineering. In addition Dr. Wertz has over 10 years classroom teaching experience across multiple face-to-face and distance formats. Her research interests include curriculum design, active learning pedagogies, and online engineering education.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This work builds upon prior work in developing robust concept inventories and skill assessments for statics instruction. While these instruments provide valuable tools to instructors to assess student progress, there is still need for learning materials to scaffold student learning from disconnected procedural and conceptual knowledge, to more holistic metacognitive knowledge. This study presents a multi-dimensional taxonomy for student use in solving statics problems. This taxonomy was created on the basis of Steif and Dantzelr’s (2005) Concept Assessment Tool for Statics and Danielson and Hink’s (2008) Statics Skills Inventory. The purpose of the taxonomy to force students to think about characteristics of the system, characteristics of the problem, and specific known and unknown components within the system before they begin to work on an appropriate solution. This two-part study used a quasi-experimental design. In the first phase of the study, six students worked individually to solve a set of statics problems under three conditions: 1) no additional prompts, 2) a controlled prompt where only the correct classification terminology was given, and 3) an open prompt where the the full taxonomy chart was given. In the second phase of the study six sets of students worked in dyads to solve the same statics problems under the same three conditions. This is a work in progress, due to be completed early December 2017. The results will be analyzed quantitatively to establish a percent correct, and will also be analyzed qualitatively to identify and categorize what mistakes were made and under what conditions. We expect groups with the taxonomic classifications to score better than the control groups. We expect the results of this paper to be useful to instructors of Statics courses who wish to better scaffold student learning and bridge the gaps between their procedural and conceptual knowledge.

Wertz, R. E. H. (2018, June), Toward a Multi-Dimensional Taxonomy for Statics Problem Classification and Problem-Solving Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31148

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: © 2018 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