Assessing first-year calculus knowledge and skills needed for a sophomore statics and dynamics course Conference Paper uri icon


  • Anecdotally, engineering faculty members complain that students taking sophomore engineering science courses are not prepared with respect to mathematics. However, evidence has rarely been systematically collected and analyzed to determine the veracity of these assertions. More specifically, the intent of the paper is to address two questions: • With respect to mathematics knowledge and skill, what do engineering faculty members expect students to know and be able to do when they begin a sophomore statics and dynamics course? • To what extent do students satisfy these expectations? To begin to address these questions, the following steps were taken. First, engineering faculty members who taught a sophomore statics and dynamics course at Texas A&M University (TAMU) were asked for problems involving first-year calculus and mathematics that they thought students should be able to solve when they entered this course. For each problem, one or more learning outcomes were abstracted. Given the set of learning outcomes engineering faculty members expected students to be able to perform, a set of nine problems was generated to be given to students near the beginning of the statics and dynamics course. The instrument has been administered to a set of students who took the course summer 2010 as well as a set of students who took the course in fall 2010. The paper will describe: • Some of the problems that were submitted by engineering faculty members • The set of learning outcomes that was generated • The pre-course assessment instrument for mathematical knowledge and skills that was generated, and • Results from over 350 students who took the pre-test. After administering the instrument and analyzing the results, faculty members have a better idea of the background of their students and can adjust course content. Further, there will be evidence to examine the extent to which students are prepared in mathematics to begin a core engineering science course. Finally, the paper will also present changes that some faculty members made in the course plans to apply what they learned about the extent of their students' mathematics preparation near the beginning of the course. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.

author list (cited authors)

  • Shryock, K. J., Srinivasa, A. R., & Froyd, J. E.

publication date

  • January 2011