Abstract— In this Work in Progress Research paper, we present preliminary results on the analysis of the problems present in a common engineering textbook. In order to transition students from novice to expert problem solving, they must have practice solving problems that are typical of engineering practice, i.e. illstructured and complex. While it is generally believed that classroom problems are for the most part closedended and not complex, there is no work in the literature to confirm this belief. In order to address this gap, we analyzed the types of problems present in a commonly used statics textbook, using Jonassen’s wellknown typology. Our findings show that almost all of the problems are algorithmic, with a few rulebased and story problems. There were no problems with higher levels of illstructuredness, such as decisionmaking, diagnosissolution, or design problems. Some educators may believe that because statics is an introductory level class, it is appropriate to only present wellstructured problems. We argue that it is both possible and necessary to include illstructured problems in classes at all levels. Doing so could potentially support students’ critical transition from novice to expert problem solvers. Keywords—problemsolving, statics, ambiguity
Characterization of problem types in statics textbooks.
This work in progress research paper considers the question, what kind of problems do engineering students commonly solve during their education? Engineering problems have been generally classified as illstructured/openended or wellstructured/closedended. Various authors have identified the characteristics of illstructured problems or presented typologies of problems. Simple definitions state that wellstructured problems are simple, concrete, and have a single solution, while illstructured problems are complex, abstract, and have multiple possible solutions (Jonassen, 1997, 2000). More detailed classifications have been provided by Shin, Jonassen, and McGee (2003), Voss (2006), and Johnstone (2001). It is commonly understood that classroom problems are wellstructured while workplace problems are illstructured, but we cannot find any empirical data to confirm or deny this proposition. Engineers commonly encounter illstructured problems such as design problems in the field therefore problemsolving skills are invaluable and should be taught in engineering courses.
This research specifically looks at the types of problems present in the two most commonly used statics textbooks (Hibbeler, 2016; Beer, et al., 2019). All endofchapter problems in these textbooks were classified using Jonassen’s (2000) wellknown typology of problem types. Out of 3,387 problems between both books, 99% fell into the algorithmic category and the remaining fell into the logic more »
 Award ID(s):
 1824610
 Publication Date:
 NSFPAR ID:
 10380938
 Journal Name:
 Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education
 Page Range or eLocationID:
 DOI: https://doi.org/10.18260/1232267
 Sponsoring Org:
 National Science Foundation
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