Engineering students' knowledge of mechanics upon arrival: expectation and reality

In recent years there has been an increasing awareness of a lack of knowledge of mechanics amongst engineering students entering English universities. In this paper, the authors investigate the level of knowledge of mechanics which lecturers commonly expect from students entering university. They also review students’ actual knowledge upon arrival. This research was carried out by implementing several research methods, including a survey of 497 schools in England; a survey of over 1,000 engineering students; results from a mechanics diagnostic test sat by 451 engineering students and a survey and follow-up interviews of academic staff. Findings from these indicate that there is a considerable difference between academic expectation and the reality of students’ prior knowledge of mechanics.