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

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

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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

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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

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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

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6 Schools’ Perspective Availability of applied modules 0 Modules% of Pupils% of Schools Mechanics Statistics Discrete or 1 Module% of Pupils% of Schools Mechanics Statistics Discrete

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7 Schools’ Perspective Uptake of applied modules

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

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

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10 Undergraduates’ Experiences

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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

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

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13 Diagnostic Mechanics Test Number of mechanics modules Number of Students Mechanics DT mean Don’t Know Overall

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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20 Contact Details Stephen Lee Mathematics Education Centre Loughborough University Leicestershire LE11 3TU

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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

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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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