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Using Computer Animations In Teaching Statics Concepts

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Simulation and Virtual Instrumentation in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1378.1 - 11.1378.8



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Paper Authors


Mukasa Ssemakula Wayne State University

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MUKASA E. SSEMAKULA graduated from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, England, with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. He joined Wayne State University in 1993 as an Associate Professor of Engineering Technology. His has research interests and has published widely in the areas of Manufacturing Systems and Computer Aided Instruction. He teaches in the areas of manufacturing, production control, engineering economics, and mechanics.

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

Using Computer Animations in Teaching Statics Concepts


In many institutions, Statics is one of the first purely technical courses that most engineering and engineering technology students encounter. This places a considerable burden on the course instructor to present engineering concepts in a way that will not only enhance learning, but also attract and retain the interest of students who are looking into pursuing engineering related careers. If not well presented, the Statics course can be an intimidating experience that discourages learning. This intellectually demanding course is frequently taught in a lecture format that makes it difficult for students to make the connection between the theoretical concepts and the corresponding physical phenomena. This paper describes a Statics course that uses a combination of animations and simulations as well as physical models to teach basic concepts. The course takes advantage of the multimedia capability of the computer to help illustrate the theoretical principles that underlie the observable physical phenomena. In particular, the computer’s animation capabilities proved to be of great value as they allow the instructor to present procedural steps in problem solving in a succinct yet fully engaging manner. By sequentially presenting the steps involved in the process, it was possible to demonstrate the analytical procedure much more effectively than any textbook can. This proved to be a highly popular learning tool for the students.

Learning Styles

Statics is one of the first purely technical courses in the academic careers of most engineering and engineering technology students. This makes Statics a make or break experience for students aspiring to engineering careers and places a considerable burden on the instructor to teach in a way that will not only enhance learning, but also attract and retain the interest of students. Tobias has shown that introductory science courses are responsible for driving off many students who have the initial intention and the ability to study scientific fields but instead switch to nonscientific fields 1. The reasons she gives include (1) failure to motivate interest in science by establishing its relevance to the students' lives and personal interests; (2) relegation of students to almost complete passivity in the classroom; (3) emphasis on competition for grades rather than cooperative learning; and (4) focus on algorithmic problem-solving as opposed to conceptual understanding.

Recent educational research shows that students’ approach to learning is characterized by different learning styles 2,3. Instructors will also have their own corresponding teaching styles. Students whose learning styles are compatible with the instructor’s teaching style tend to retain information longer, apply it more effectively, and have more positive post-course attitudes toward the subject. Students often drop out of science and engineering courses because of failure to address their learning styles. To help instructors understand their own teaching styles as well as the learning styles of their students, various learning style models have been developed. Four of the most well-known leaning style models are: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Kolb’s

Ssemakula, M. (2006, June), Using Computer Animations In Teaching Statics Concepts Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1206

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