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A First Take on an Individual Data Generation Assignment for Open-ended Mathematical Modeling Problems

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Model Eliciting Activities

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.45.1 - 25.45.11



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Paper Authors


Heidi A. Diefes-Dux Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in food science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in food process engineering from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. She is a member of Purdue’s Teaching Academy. Since 1999, she has been a faculty member within the First-year Engineering program at Purdue, the gateway for all first-year students entering the College of Engineering. She has coordinated and taught in a required first-year engineering course that engages students in open-ended problem-solving and design. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of model-eliciting activities with realistic engineering contexts. She is currently the Director of Teacher Professional Development for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE).

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Monica E. Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Models and Modeling Perspective Impact on a First-Year Engineering CourseIt is increasingly recognized that more opportunities need to be provided to engage students insignificant engineering problem solving or design experiences that reflect engineering practice,particularly in the first year of undergraduate education. However, the learning value of theseexperiences can be suspect if they cannot support analytical skills development as well asprofessional skills development, such as communication and teaming. The six principles thatguide the development of Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs) can be exploited so that theinherent complexity and nature of a problem can be harnessed to promote effective learningacross a wide variety of learning objectives.MEAs are a manifestation of the models and modeling perspective. This perspective assumesthat solving concrete, situated problems is easier than abstract, decontextualized problemsbecause they allow for sense-making in a context. This perspective also acknowledges that theconventional approach of “passing on” information to students does not work for all students;some students better demonstrate their understandings through alternative instructionalapproaches (e.g. projects). Further, this perspective acknowledges that students come toproblem-solving situations with prior knowledge and relevant ideas, and that their knowledgeand ideas can become increasingly sophisticated during a problem-solving episode. Thisperspective takes the long-term view that students’ conceptual systems evolve over time.These problems were introduced into a large required first-year engineering course in 2002. Tenyears later, with National Science Foundation support, these activities are used to provide first-year engineering students with opportunities to engage not only in complex and iterativeauthentic problem solving but also guided problem formulation, peer feedback, and reflection onteam solution progress - all with an overarching emphasis on the development of effectiveteaming and communication skills. This paper will look at how classroom-based research aroundthe design, implementation, and assessment of model-eliciting activities has informed open-ended problem solving and engineering design education for first-year engineering students.NOTE: This paper is intended for ERM Special Session: Models and Modeling: Lessons Learnedfrom Ten Years of MEA Research and Implementations in Engineering

Diefes-Dux, H. A., & Cardella, M. E. (2012, June), A First Take on an Individual Data Generation Assignment for Open-ended Mathematical Modeling Problems Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20805

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