Assessment of Interactive Courseware for Shear Force and Bending Moment Diagrams


Accurate construction of shear force and bending moment diagrams (V/M diagrams) is one of the most important skills students learn in the Statics course since mastery of this topic is a prerequisite to successful design of beams and shafts in courses such as Mechanics of Materials, Machine Design, Structural Analysis, and Structural Design. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of Statics students do not attain adequate proficiency in constructing V/M diagrams. In response to this problem, several computer-based learning aids have been developed in recent years to improve student performance in constructing V/M diagrams. Although results have been encouraging, assessment of the effectiveness of these learning aids has often been limited in scope. Engineering mechanics instructors at the University of Missouri - Rolla have addressed this problem by developing and testing a series of computer-based learning aids on V/M diagrams for use by Statics students and instructors. Approximately 230 students participated in the assessment. About forty percent used the computer-based learning aids and the rest served as a control group. Quantitative and qualitative measures were used for comparison, and subjective comments were solicited from each group. Students in the experimental group scored significantly higher on learning outcomes and confidence ratings with respect to the content covered in the computer based learning aids. This paper describes the computer-based exercises developed for V/M diagrams and their assessment.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Third Department

Business and Information Technology

Keywords and Phrases

V/M Diagrams

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Bending moment
Shear (Mechanics)

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2005 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), All rights reserved.