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 Peer Review: Self Assessment: Structural Analysis I
Peer Review
Self Assessment: Structural Analysis I
 Reviewed:
 Apr 13, 2006 by Engineering
Ratings
Overall Rating:
3.7 stars
Content Quality:
3.7 stars
Effectiveness:
4.0 stars
Ease of Use:
3.0 stars
 Overview:
 This online tutorial allows students to construct free body diagrams (Part I)
and to write equilibruim equations (Part II). Students can practice
constructing free body diagrams for beams, frames, machines, and trusses, and
develop equilibruim equations for beams, frames, and trusses. The site provides
112 practice problems, 45 of which are contained within the free body diagram
section.
Free body diagrams are constructed by dragging appropriate reactions from a
panel to the empty diagram. Equilibrium equations for forces in the x and y
directions and moments are entered into an equation box. Students can then
click on a "check" button to see if their solution is correct in either section.
An overview of how to use the tools for both Part I and Part II is included in
the Introduction section. Movie clips are provided to demonstrate how the
process of diagram construction and the process for entering equations are
performed.
For this tutorial, instructors can elect to have their class be able to
participate in a "side note" option so that they can enter notes on problem
solutions as they figure them out, so that the notes could be used for
study/review at a later date. Additionally, instructors can also choose to have
email assistance available from the tutorial creators for students.
This interactive ebook is designed to allow undergraduate engineering students
to assess ability to create freebody diagrams and test their equilibrium
equations skills for rigid bodies.
 Type of Material:
 This is an online ebook providing a tutorial for constructing free body
diagrams and equilibrium equations.  Recommended Uses:
 This tutorial would be a good companion set of material to a student in Statics
or Structures I who would like extra practice to prepare for an exam. It would
also be useful to help students better understand concepts, provided they
already have a decent understanding of the material. (A student who is "lost"
would not be an appropriate user of this ebook).
This ebook could also be used by instructors to demonstrate construction of
free body diagrams to students.  Technical Requirements:
 No special requirements.
 Identify Major Learning Goals:
 The goal of this tutorial is to provide students with additional resources to
practice drawing free body digrams and developing equilibrium equations for
beams, frames, and trusses.  Target Student Population:
 The target population for this tutorial would be engineering majors in Statics
courses, or civil engineering students in the beginning structures course.  Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
 Students should be fairly knowledgeable on these subjects before attempting to
use the tutorial. The help provided when an incorrect answer is given is very
basic. (Ex. Too many forces, too few forces, Incorrect equation, try again.)
Even if students had access to the email help availalbe through the tutorial
creators, several hours must be allowed for email responses. This tutorial
would be frustrating for those students who do not already have a fairly good
grasp of these concepts.
Content Quality
 Rating:

 Strengths:
 The content of this ebook is excellent for providing Statics and Structures I
students with additional practice in developing free body diagrams and
equilibrium equations. The various type of problems provide a diverse group of
problems for students to explore. The free body diagrams provide a nice visual
tool for students so that they are able to gain experience with these concepts
in a new way (rather than simply classroom lecture). So many engineering
students tend to be visual learners, that this tool should be quite valuable in
furthering their understanding of the concepts. The number and types of
examples provided are more than adequate. Problems progress in difficulty
through each section, giving students the opportunity to start with more basic
problems and work their way up to more challenging ones.  Concerns:
 I think this tutorial would be more effective if there was a general overview of
both drawing free body diagrams, and writing equilibrium equations. This would
allow the ebook to be useful to an even broader range of students. As the
text is now, students must be fairly competent in both subjects in order to use
the tutorial.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
 Rating:

 Strengths:
 The visual tool for the free body diagrams is excellent. This could be easily
used in a Structures or Statics course by the instructor to provide additional
examples through a visual method in an effort to appeal to a broader spectrum of
learners. If this was used as a teaching tool, it would also make it easier
for students to then use the ebook on their own, as many of the pitfalls
encountered by a new user would already have been explained. Both the free body
diagram tool and the equilibrium equation editor could be used in a classroom
setting to encourage student engagement. Students could volunteer to try their
solution for the class, or could be selected to do so.  Concerns:
 The instructor demonstrating this tool must be very familiar with the ebook and
must have practiced solving multiple problems of varying difficulty before
presentation to a class. There are many features and requirements not readily
grasped when viewing the movie clips that demonstrate the use of the tools. This
would also not be an appropriate tool for a student to "teach themselves" as
not enough information is provided either for the background material to these
topics, or for the use of the tools.
Solutions need to be available for students after a limited number of
unsuccessful attempts at solving the problems. Students may get frustrated if
they cannot determine the solution.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
 Rating:

 Strengths:
 The basic premise for the use of these tools is fairly readily apparent. The
media clips should provide a base level of understanding for students/faculty to
use the tools. The click and drag functions makes the program easy to use.  Concerns:
 Many aspects of the tools were not easily understood. For instance, there are
no explicit instructions about changing labels (a very important component of
the free body diagram tool). The media clip does show labels being changed for
applied forces, however, the clip proceeds so rapidly, that it is easy to miss
this concept. In the introductory text, the need to change lables is mentioned
briefly. This requirement could be easily overlooked, thus causing students
much frustration.
It is also not clear that you are actually able to sum moments about any point
you choose in the equilibrium equation section. This also may be a source of
frustration to users. Additionally, the way in which equations must be entered
should be more explicitly defined. Finally, more feedback is needed when there
is an incorrect solution.
 Other Issues and Comments:
 This tool can be a very effective "extra" for students fairly competent in
development of free body diagrams and equilibrium equations. It also can be
used very effectively in the classroom to provide an additional method of
learning to appeal to a wider variety of student learning styles.
The explanation for how to used each of the tools should be expanded. This
might be accomplished simply by using more complex problems in the demonstration
clips and slowing down the clip play rate. However, it would probably be more
effective to also provide more detailed written instructions and examples for
using both tools.
The online tutorial could also be appropriate for a wider variety of learners if
background information about both topics was provided. In particular, it would
be helpful to provide an example diagram of loading and support conditions so
that students could use this as a reference when attempting to solve problems.
Additionally, the "help" provided is very vague. I imagine students could
easily become frustrated when they repeatedly get a comment like "too few
forces." More detailed "hints" helping to lead them to the correct solution
would be more beneficial.  Creative Commons: