# UK Engineering Students’ Knowledge of Mechanics on Entry: Has it all gone? Stephen Lee Martin Harrison Carol Robinson.

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UK Engineering Students’ Knowledge of Mechanics on Entry: Has it all gone? Stephen Lee Martin Harrison Carol Robinson

2 Overview Background Schools’ Perspective Questionnaire – Schools Undergraduates’ Experiences Questionnaire – Students Diagnostic Mechanics Test Summary Conclusions and Implications

3 Background Awareness of ‘Maths Problem’ Appropriate Techniques: Diagnostic Testing Follow-up Support Is there a Mechanics Problem? UK Universities assume mechanics studied at school

4 Background - Changes Changes in Post-16 Qualifications in 2000, including mathematics Curriculum 2000 (Mathematics) 2 or 3 applied modules (need not include mechanics) September (2004) 2 applied modules

5 Schools’ Perspective Questionnaire: To ascertain availability and uptake of mechanics modules January 2004 Posted to 500 ‘schools’ (18%) 242 replies 13,754 AS/A2-level maths students

6 Schools’ Perspective Availability of applied modules 0 Modules% of Pupils% of Schools Mechanics2.625.35 Statistics1.362.06 Discrete43.4046.09 0 or 1 Module% of Pupils% of Schools Mechanics15.8326.34 Statistics14.1421.81 Discrete79.1079.01

7 Schools’ Perspective Uptake of applied modules

8 Undergraduates’ Experiences Questionnaire: To ascertain number of A-level mechanics modules studied Target groups Engineering, physics, maths October 2003 and 2004

9 Undergraduates’ Experiences Results – maths/phys/eng students

11 Diagnostic Mechanics Test To ascertain knowledge base of students Questions from M1 and M2 syllabus + common misconceptions Oct 2004 – 451 engineering students at LU

12 Sample Question: (Savage - Mechanics in Action) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) Diagnostic Mechanics Test

13 Diagnostic Mechanics Test Number of mechanics modules Number of Students Mechanics DT mean 03059.93 19665.85 220874.55 3+6781.25 Don’t Know5048.20 Overall45169.84

14 Diagnostic Mechanics Test Analysis Overall high average – 70% M1 questions answered better than M2 Students from engineering departments with high entry requirements scored better

15 Summary (i) Schools 5% offer no mechanics 26% offer at most M1 43% of all pupils study M1 (not necessarily engineers)

16 Summary (ii) LU engineers Approx 8% have studied no mech modules Approx 30% have studied at most M1 Diagnostic test Correlation with number of mechanics modules studied

17 Conclusions Large numbers of students’ entering with little or no knowledge of mechanics Need to know just what knowledge students have: Questionnaire Diagnostic Mechanics Test

18 Implications Worldwide Need to monitor changes to pre-university qualifications and respond accordingly In UK: From 2006 entry, students will have studied even less mechanics Onus on universities to adapt to their continually changing intake Widening participation

19 Answer UK Engineering Students’ Knowledge of Mechanics on Entry: Has it all gone? No! BUT A significant number of students are entering with little or no knowledge of mechanics

20 Contact Details Stephen Lee Mathematics Education Centre Loughborough University Leicestershire LE11 3TU S.Lee2@lboro.ac.uk http://mec.lboro.ac.uk

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22 Syllabi M1/M2 OCR M1 (2637) Force as a vector Equilibrium of a particle Newton’s Laws of motion Linear momentum Kinematics of motion in a straight line M2 (2638) Centre of mass Equilibrium of a rigid body Motion of a projectile Uniform motion in a circle Coefficient of restitution and impulse Energy, work and power

23 Syllabi M3/M4 OCR M3 (2639) Equilibrium of rigid bodies in contact Elastic strings and springs Impulse and momentum in two dimensions Motion in a vertical circle Linear motion under a variable force Simple Harmonic Motion M4 (2640) Relative motion Centre of mass Moment of inertia Rotation of a rigid body Stability and oscillations

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