Concept Inventory (DCI) team developed a concept inventory
for sophomore-level dynamics. Dynamics is generally taken by
mechanics, aerospace, civil, and industrial engineers, and the
prerequisite is usually statics and two semesters of calculus.
The efforts of this team are focused on the second half of the
dynamics course, that is, rigid-body dynamics, since the Force
Concept Inventory (FCI) sufficiently covers particle dynamics.
The DCI team grew out a meeting held in San Antonio, Texas,
in September 2002. This meeting, attended by fourteen mechanics
faculty members from an equal number of universities, was instrumental
in encouraging work on a DCI and on reinvigorating the work
on the Strength
of Materials Concept Inventory. For more information on
the development of the DCI, please contact D.
L. Evans, Arizona State University, leader; Gary
Gray, Pennsylvania State University; Phillip
Cornwell, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Francesco
Costanzo, Pennsylvania State University, and Brian
Self, U. S. Air Force Academy. This team has worked closely
together since the San Antonio meeting to assemble a concept
inventory that addresses the commonly held alternate conceptions
in rigid-body mechanics. Later, Andy
Ruina (Cornell) joined the group.
Knowledge of student learning has expanded in
the last fifteen years but remains unfamiliar to most science
and engineering instructors. Research literature on student
learning has yet to widely influence either textbook presentations
or classroom pedagogy. Teaching of engineering subjects continues
to be patterned after how instructors were taught when they
were students, rather than being informed by research on learning.
A hindrance to reform in science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics (STEM) education has been the absence of assessment
instruments that can measure the value added to student learning
by new ways of teaching important material.
The Foundation Coalition and others have been
working on the development of concept inventory (CI) assessment
instruments patterned after the Force Concept Inventory (FCI)
instrument of Hestenes, Wells, and Swackhamer (for revised edition,
Concept inventories are multiple-choice tests in which incorrect
answers are carefully constructed from research on common student
misconceptions of the concept(s) involved. Such assessment inventories
can play an important part in relating teaching techniques to
student learning. Coalition work began three years ago on CIs
for thermodynamics, solid mechanics, signals and processing,
and electromagnetics. Two years ago work got under way on CIs
for circuits, fluid mechanics, engineering materials, transport
processes, and statistics. This past year work began on chemistry,
computer engineering, dynamics, electronics, and heat transfer
Members of this group had many conferences and
communication, as they put together a CI instrument. Below is
the chronology of their accomplishments:
• Used 25 participants in a Delphi process
to define concepts covered in rigid-body dynamics and to determine
this group’s perceptions about how well students understand
• Composed questions that involved these concepts;
• Used these questions with focus groups of students who
had recently taken dynamics, to elicit student responses;
• Built sets of multiple-choice answers to these questions,
based on the elicited student responses;
• Tested and refined questions and answers, using focus
• Composed version 1 of a dynamics concept inventory,
which is ready to test fall 2003 in some dynamics classes.
Focus groups uncovered student misconceptions
about dynamics concepts—misconceptions that persisted
through and beyond instruction. As an example, the misconceptions
about one of the fundamental concepts of rigid-body mechanics
is included in the sidebar. Every student except one in the
focus groups at three universities chose the wrong answer to
this problem. The most common incorrect answer was that the
object moves upward to the right and begins to rotate. The equations
developed in rigid-body mechanics show that the object actually
moves to the right (in the direction of the applied force) and
begins to rotate about the center of mass. Focus group results
show that students have not connected what the equations foretell
and what students think will happen in reality. The one student
who chose the correct answer did so because he experimentally
observed the behavior with a sheet of paper on his desk—a
behavior he did not anticipate.
|The box of mass m shown is initially at rest on a smooth,
frictionless, horizontal table. The box is acted upon by
a constant force F as shown. The line of action of F is
located a distance h from the center of mass of the box,
G. Describe the path of the mass center of the box and how
the orientation of the box will change.
At the Concept Developers Meeting held at Frontiers
in Education Conference 2002 in Boston, the DCI team agreed
to use the Delphi process, patterned after that used for the
concept inventory team at Colorado School of Mines [1,2,3]
to determine a list of the important concepts, as well as misconceptions,
in dynamics. They began the process by recruiting 25 seasoned
faculty members from diverse institutions, ranging from community
colleges to research universities, and including minority and
women faculty. These faculty members described those concepts
in rigid-body dynamics that their students have difficulty understanding.
The team told the Delphi participants to focus on areas in which
students often display insufficient conceptual understanding
rather than focusing on student difficulties with analysis skills.
Once the raw data were collected from the Delphi participants,
these were categorized and summarized; final statements for
each of the 24 important concepts (and alternate misconceptions)
were developed. In round two of the Delphi process, each of
the participants estimated the proportion of their students
who understand the issue or concept at an acceptable level at
the end of dynamics and described how important they believe
it is for students to understand the concept. From the collected
data, the team has identified eleven concepts from rigid-body
dynamics that should be covered on the DCI. Student focus groups
have also been used to address alternate conceptions that involve
the concepts identified by the Delphi process.
The work accomplished in the first half of 2003
was reported at the 2003 ASEE Annual Conference in Nashville,
TN . This paper won best of session in the
Mechanics Division. An update is available in a paper for the
2005 ASEE Annual Conference in Portland, OR .
References for Further Information
- Linstone, H.A., and Turoff, M. (1975), The
Delphi Method: Techniques and Applications, Reading MA: Addison-Wesley.
- Clayton, M.J. (1997), "Delphi: a technique
to harness expert opinion for critical decision-making tasks in
education," Ed. Psych., 17(4), 373–386.
- Miller, R., Olds, B., and Streveler, R., Developing
an Outcomes Assessment Instrument for Identifying Engineering
Student Misconceptions in Thermal and Transport Sciences (NSF
ASA grant DUE 0127806).
- Gray, G., Evans, D., Cornwell, P., Costanzo,
F., and Self, B. (2003). "Toward
a nationwide dynamics concept inventory assessment test,"
Proceedings, ASEE Annual Conference, Nashville TN, USA
- Evans, D.L., Gray, G.L.., Krause, S.J., Martin,
J.K.., Midkiff, C., Notaros, B.M., Pavelich, M., Rancour, D.,
Reed-Rhoads, T., Steif, P., Streveler, R., Wage, K.E. (2003).
on Concept Inventory Assessment Tools, Proceedings,
Frontiers in Education Conference.
- Gray, G.L.., Evans, D.L., Cornwell, P., Costanzo, F., Self,
B. (2005). The
Dynamics Concept Inventory Assessment Test: A Progress Report.
Proceedings,2005 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.
2001 Foundation Coalition. All rights reserved. Last modified