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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

UNDERSTANDING MECHANICS WITH APPLICATIONS IN MATLAB/OCTAVE THROUGH PEER-LED WORKSHOPS**

Abstract

Through peer-led workshops students were given the opportunity to develop a better understanding of materials related to mechanics and MATLAB/Octave applications. Through a series of projects, tests, and questioners an individual’s understanding of the material was both challenged and measured. Projects were used to introduce students to the practice of forming a complete theory on the materials covered during the course. The theory based assignments were expanded to include the modification/formation of programs in MATLAB/Octave that simulated the systems under consideration. These programs presented the student with the opportunity to become familiar with the practices involving coding/debugging, and provided a visual representation of the systems' behaviors. The students were encouraged to seek solutions through both the professor and an assigned peer leader; assistance was provided as hints to guide their thought processes. A pre- and post-test on mechanics concepts was given on the first and last days of the course as a tool to measure the change in understanding due to completion of the mechanics course. The gathered data was compared to that of past groups to gauge any shifts. An anonymous questioner was given at the completion of the course to determine a student’s satisfaction with the construction of the course, and obtain recommendations to better address the challenges faced by students. As a student/peer-leader, my final project included developing the theory and the MATLAB program that analyzed the difference in a system's behavior when acceleration due to gravity is not held constant.

Acknowledgements

UWG SEEP Mini-grant Program

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