Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Education

Committee Chair(s)

Ning Fang (Committee Chair)


Ning Fang


Edward Reeve


Oenardi Lawanto


Idalis Villanueva


Wade H. Goodridge


The present dissertation research examined the effects of applying the enhanced hands-on intervention to reveal and correct student misunderstandings of the concepts in engineering dynamics, especially particle dynamics. We involved 36 student volunteers for three different research topics. The student participants were divided into two groups in each research topic: enhanced hands-on intervention and pure textbook groups. An interview and intervention was conducted with each participant individually.

The author introduced the “Think-Aloud” method with two kinds of interventions mentioned above. The participants were required to speak out their thought process loud as they worked on the two sets of assessment questions with intervention between them, and the entire process was audio and video recorded. The audio records were transcribed into text files and segmented with meaningful codes. In all of the codes, the relationship between misconceptions found and potential reasons for these misconceptions were revealed.

The effects were assessed by qualitative and quantitative research methods. Statistical analysis of the coding results verified the efficacy of the coding process. The qualitative research focused on the reasoning progress of the participants and the quantitative research focused on the score increase rates and normalized learning gains of the participants in both intervention groups.

It was found that the groups who utilized the enhanced hands-on intervention achieved a better performance than those who accepted only textbook interventions in score increase rates, normalized learning gains, and code reduction rates, for all three research topics. In addition, the enhanced hands-on intervention showed a higher effectiveness than the textbook intervention for lower-level concepts, but it was harder to correct those misconceptions related to applications with higher abstraction of the concept itself. From the results of the normalized learning gains, the enhanced hands-on intervention benefitted the top students more than the struggled students.

The research results suggested that the enhanced hands-on intervention should be added to the current engineering curricula in order to help students to improve their academic performance.