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Active Learning in an Introductory Materials Science Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Materials Division Technical Session 2

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Lessa Grunenfelder University of Southern California

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Lessa Grunenfelder has a BS in astronautical engineering and a MS and PhD in materials science, all from the University of Southern California. In 2015 she joined the USC Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science as teaching faculty. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses on material properties, processing, selection, and design. She is passionate about sharing her love of materials science with students through curriculum that combines fundamental science and engineering application. Her research interests are in efficient manufacturing of high performance composites.

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A lecture-based introductory materials science course was converted to an active learning experience without altering the scheduling of the course, classroom location, or faculty contact hours. Group lab activities, using simple and inexpensive materials, were incorporated into the course to enhance student engagement and understanding. Throughout a 15 week semester, 10 labs were performed. Each lab was completed and submitted during a class period, with students working in groups of 4. Periodic video lectures were posted prior to class to prepare students for specific in-class activities. No core content was removed from the original lecture-based version of the course. Each lab activity was a modular unit enabling adoption of the course structure by multiple professors. The in-class labs are described here, along with preliminary data on student experience and outcomes. Metrics of analysis include exam performance, student feedback, and observations of student engagement. The redesigned course has been taught twice, by two different professors. Data from lab-based courses is compared to data from previous iterations of the standard lecture-based model, as taught by the same faculty members.

Grunenfelder, L. (2019, June), Active Learning in an Introductory Materials Science Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32029

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