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Using Technology For Concepts Learning And Rapid Feedback In Statics

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Improving Statics Instruction

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1431.1 - 10.1431.7



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Paper Authors

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Jennifer Kadlowec

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Dexter Whittinghill

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John Chen

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

Using Technology for Concepts Learning and Rapid Feedback in Statics

John C. Chen,* Jennifer A. Kadlowec,* and Dexter C. Whittinghill Departments of *Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ


In this project our goal is to improve student learning in the foundation mechanics course Statics as well as improve knowledge retention (durability) and knowledge application in a different environment (transferability). We aim to do this by providing rapid feedback to students of their understanding of key concepts and skills being presented. The feedback system acts as the focal point and catalyst to encourage students to assist each other in correcting misconceptions or deepening each other’s understanding of the topic or skill at hand. Furthermore, the system allows the professor to assess the students’ level of comprehension (or misconception) in a just- in-time fashion, and thus guide his or her pacing and coverage of the material. The rapid feedback is enabled through wireless-networked handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) or flashcards. In the first two years of the study, we have implemented the system in two sections of Statics using a crossover design of experiment, where one section receives the rapid feedback ‘treatment’ (i.e., use of the PDAs) while the other (the ‘control’ group) receives rapid feedback on the exact same topics, but only through the use of flashcards instead of PDAs. After a predetermined period, the sections swap their feedback treatment. Several swaps are achieved during the course, and in this manner each student acts as his or her own experimental control to assess the effectiveness of the treatment. This paper focuses on implementation and feedback methods in statics, a brief summary of statistical analysis, results of student learning and use of feedback in follow-on courses.


Core engineering courses, such as Statics, are comprised of key concepts and skills that students need to master in order to succeed in follow-on courses. Students must comprehend these concepts at sufficient depth (as opposed to rote memorization of procedure) and transfer this understanding to other courses and contexts. In this multiyear project, our hypothesis is that such learning is facilitated in an active, peer-assisted environment in which the students are provided frequent and rapid feedback of their state of learning.

Background and Motivation

Bransford et al.1 point out that “effective learning is its durability and transferability,” which means having a long-term impact on how it influences other kinds of learning or its application in other contexts. Furthermore, they state: “Learning must be guided by generalized principles (concepts) that are widely applicable. Knowledge learned at the level of rote memorization of rules and algorithms inhibit transfer and limit durability. Learners are helped in their independent learning attempts if they have conceptual knowledge.”

Providing feedback to students of their current level of understanding of concepts is critical for effective learning. It is also important for the professor. This feedback is typically realized

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. Copyright ©2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Kadlowec, J., & Whittinghill, D., & Chen, J. (2005, June), Using Technology For Concepts Learning And Rapid Feedback In Statics Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14392

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