A structured approach to problem solving in statics and dynamics: Assessment and evolution

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Abstract

The class testing of our proposed problem solving procedure yielded some interesting clues regarding the effectiveness of a structured approach to problem solving in a typical sophomorelevel Dynamics course. We feel that both the students and the instructors benefit from using a consistent approach to problem solving. One of the major benefits for the instructor is the opportunity to constantly and consistently point the students' attention to the relation between a particular topic or solution technique and the underlying fundamental physical principles rooted in Newton's laws of motion. Overall, we feel rather confident in affirming that the students greatly benefit from a structured approach because it helps them focus their attention and prevents, to a significant extent, the "meandering" in search for "n equations in n unknowns". From a more specific pedagogical viewpoint, the class implementation of a structured problem-solving approach made us realize how the FBD is at the center of a problem's solution because the creation of the FBD can be made a place where both conceptual as well as procedural knowledge must be used and coordinated. Traditionally, in sketching an FBD one makes important choices as to what to include and what to neglect in the model. However, the creation of the FBD also provides an invaluable opportunity to discuss how the forces included in the model affect the various solution strategies available to the student and, in this way, provides an opportunity for the student to make an informed decision as to what solution strategy to adopt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2008

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abstract = "The class testing of our proposed problem solving procedure yielded some interesting clues regarding the effectiveness of a structured approach to problem solving in a typical sophomorelevel Dynamics course. We feel that both the students and the instructors benefit from using a consistent approach to problem solving. One of the major benefits for the instructor is the opportunity to constantly and consistently point the students' attention to the relation between a particular topic or solution technique and the underlying fundamental physical principles rooted in Newton's laws of motion. Overall, we feel rather confident in affirming that the students greatly benefit from a structured approach because it helps them focus their attention and prevents, to a significant extent, the {"}meandering{"} in search for {"}n equations in n unknowns{"}. From a more specific pedagogical viewpoint, the class implementation of a structured problem-solving approach made us realize how the FBD is at the center of a problem's solution because the creation of the FBD can be made a place where both conceptual as well as procedural knowledge must be used and coordinated. Traditionally, in sketching an FBD one makes important choices as to what to include and what to neglect in the model. However, the creation of the FBD also provides an invaluable opportunity to discuss how the forces included in the model affect the various solution strategies available to the student and, in this way, provides an opportunity for the student to make an informed decision as to what solution strategy to adopt.",
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