Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Education

Committee Chair(s)

Ning Fang


Ning Fang


Kurt H. Becker


Oenardi Lawanto


Edward M. Reeve


Gilberto E. Urroz


Computer simulation and animation (CSA) has been receiving growing attention and wide application in the engineering education community. The goal of this dissertation research was to improve students' conceptual understanding and procedural skills for solving particle dynamics problems, by developing, implementing and assessing 12 interactive computer simulation and animation learning modules. The developed CSA learning modules integrate visualization with mathematical modeling to help students directly connect engineering dynamics with mathematics. These CSA modules provide a constructivist environment where students can study physical laws, demonstrate mental models, make predictions, derive conclusions, and solve problems.

A mixed-method research was conducted in this study: quasi-experimental method (quantitative), and survey questionnaires and interviews (qualitative and quantitative). Quasi-experimental research involving an intervention group and a comparison group was performed to investigate the extent that the developed CSA learning modules improved students' conceptual understanding and procedural skills in solving particle dynamics problems. Surveys and interviews were administrated to examine students' learning attitudes toward and experiences with the developed CSA learning modules.

The results of quasi-experimental research show that the 12 CSA learning modules developed for this study increased students' class-average conceptual and procedural learning gains by 29% and 40%, respectively. Therefore, these developed CSA modules significantly improved students' conceptual understanding and procedural skills for solving particle dynamics problems. The survey and interview results show that students had a positive experience with CSA learning.