An analysis of introductory physics students' understanding of statics principles was conducted. The prior development and use of Tutorials in Introductory Physics has addressed student difficulties concerning introductory physics concepts, including fundamental statics principles; yet, conceptual difficulties persist, particularly when the complexity of an assessment question increases. To assess the extent to which the introductory physics curriculum prepared students for an engineering statics course, students completed multiple-choice questions taken from the "Statics Concept Inventory". Responses illuminated remaining areas of difficulty for students, as well as trends in student understanding. Interestingly, students commonly made the same errors as those reported in the analysis of the "Statics Concept Inventory," especially with regard to applying a limit on the friction force in order to maintain static equilibrium. Further exploration of student difficulties with statics concepts is needed so curricula can be adapted for extensive instruction.
Last Modified March 29, 2012