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Title: Results of an Intro to Mechanics Course Designed to Support Student Success in Physics I and Foundational Engineering Courses
This complete evidence-based practice paper discusses the strategies and results of an introduction to mechanics course, designed to prepare students for introductory-level physics and other fundamental courses in engineering, such as statics, strength of materials, and dynamics. The course was developed to address historically high failure (DFW) rates in the physics courses and is part of a set of interventions implemented to support student success in a college of engineering and computer science. The course focuses on providing in-depth understanding of Newton’s Laws of motion, free-body diagrams, and linear and projectile motion. Because it focuses on a limited number of competencies, it is possible to spend more time on inquiry-based activities and in-class discussions. The course framework was designed considering the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, to provide students with learning opportunities in 6-day cycles: (i) day 1: a pre-class learning activity (reading or video) and a quiz; (ii) day 2: in-class Kahoot low-stakes quiz with discussion, a short lecture with embedded time for problem-solving and discussion, and in-class activities (labs, group projects); (iii) day 4: homework due two days after the class; (iv) day 6: homework self-reflection (autopsy based on provided solutions) two days after homework is due. The assessment of more » course performance is based on the well-characterized force concept inventory (FCI) exam that is administered before the intro to mechanics course and both before and after the Physics I course; and on student performance (grades) in Physics and Statics courses. Results from the FCI pre-test show that students who took the introduction to mechanics course (treatment group) started the physics course with a much better understanding of force concepts than other students in the course. The FCI post-test shows better normalized gain for the treatment group, compared to other students, which is also aligned with student performance in the course. Additionally, student performance is significantly better in statics, with 25% DWF rate compared to 50% for the other students. In summary, the framework of the course, which focuses on providing students with in-depth understanding of force concepts, has led to better learning and performance in Physics I, but importantly it has also helped students achieve better performance in the Statics course, the first fundamental course in civil and mechanical engineering programs. « less
Authors:
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Award ID(s):
1727054
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10176869
Journal Name:
ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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