The Use of a Physical Analogy to Improve Engineering Students’ Understanding of ‘Moments’

Noppe, Michelle-Ann (2014). The Use of a Physical Analogy to Improve Engineering Students’ Understanding of ‘Moments’ Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Noppe, Michelle-Ann
Thesis Title The Use of a Physical Analogy to Improve Engineering Students’ Understanding of ‘Moments’
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014-10-08
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Julie McCredden
Total pages 94
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Instructors can use analogies to help students understand concepts that are both complex and abstract. In addition, the use of embodied cognition may help students gain a thorough understanding of a concept that enables the application of that concept to real world problems. Embodied cognition is based on a person’s ‘physical experience’ with the concept or an analogy being used to explain the concept. Based on the research into analogy and embodied cognition, this study examined what type of tutorial or explanation is best able to help first year engineering students understand the concept of a ‘moment’. This study used a mixed design with four between-participants conditions: a Combined condition; an Analogy condition; a Physical Analogy Only condition; and a traditional mathematical Explanation Only condition. The main hypothesis was that participants in the Combined condition would improve the most from pre-test to post-test compared to the other three conditions. It was also hypothesised, based on analogy research, participants in the Analogy condition would improve more than the Explanation Only condition, who would improve more than the Physical Analogy Only condition. This latter condition was expected to be the least useful because the participants would not have been given the mathematical explanation or shown how the physical experience could be mapped onto the mathematical procedure. Contrary to expectations, results suggest that the Explanation Only condition tutorial was the most effective in improving participants’ scores on a range of variables measuring their knowledge of ‘moments’. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future improvements are discussed.
Keyword Analogies
Cognitive psychology
Teaching methods

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Created: Thu, 21 May 2015, 10:52:07 EST by Louise Grainger on behalf of School of Psychology