Publication Details

Goldfinch, T., Carew, A. L. & Thomas, G. (2009). Students Views on Engineering Mechanics Education and the Implications for Educators. Proceedings of the 20th Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (pp. 624-629). Adelaide, Australia: School of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Adelaide.


This paper presents findings of a qualitative study conducted as part of a larger project to address the issue of high failure rates in first year engineering mechanics. Engineering student focus groups were held at two institutions, and were asked about the subject area, curriculum, and their approaches to study. Eight academics were also interviewed individually on the same topics to provide some context for the focus group outcomes. Documented responses revealed a tendency for both groups to focus on the most negative or extreme examples as cases which were representative of a wider situation. Although the focus group and interview protocols were designed to elicit positive and negative views, the negative appeared to dominate. We propose that the predominantly negative perception and interpretation of the situation, and an apparent ‘us and them’ mentality potentially contribute to high failure rates in engineering mechanics. These issues may be creating stumbling blocks, or leading to de-motivation in educators’ attempts to teach the topic successfully, and students’ efforts to learn the material effectively. Introduction

Included in

Engineering Commons