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Active, Topic-centered Learning

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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

Mathematics Division Technical Session 1

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Paper Authors


Guisela Alejandra Illescas Ms Universidad Galileo

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Guisela Illescas is the Administrative Coordinator and Assistant Professor of the Applied Math Deparment in Universidad Galileo. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and a Master in Reingeneering.

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Alberth E. Alvarado Universidad Galileo

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Alberth Alvarado received (with honors) the B.S. degree in Electronics and Computer Science Engineering from Universidad Francisco Marroquín in 2004; the M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010 and 2014, respectively. Currently, Dr. Alvarado is the Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics at Universidad Galileo in Guatemala, Guatemala.

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Jose Roberto Portillo Universidad Galileo

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Roberto Portillo is a mathematics instructor and sub-director of the Teaching Assistants Department of Universidad Galileo in Guatemala. He holds a Bs. in Electronics and Computer Science and a Ms. in Operations Research. In several years he was awarded with the "Excellence in Teaching" award. His current research interests are focused in Engineering Education.

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It is well known that active learning techniques involve students in their own learning and there is no doubt about their effectiveness. However, each technique is suitable for certain kinds of courses. Therefore, in this paper, we present a novel active learning methodology to teach engineering mathematics courses, called Topic Centered Learning (TCL). Our approach relies on (i) a clever and meticulous session to session segmentation of each of the topics that need to be covered in the course; (ii) design of problem solving sessions minimizing the time invested on lectures (a hands on experience); and (iii) link between mathematics and engineering is reinforced via short projects. All the details of the afore presented methodology are also discussed.

In order to test our methodology, we use it to teach an integral calculus course with a sample of 200 students. We measure the students’ understanding of each of the topics of the course and compare it with the results of previous years. In summary, the average midterms grades and their rate of approval improved significantly, compared with the previous four years. Note that all the exams’ rates of approval, obtained using the proposed methodology, are above 60%.

Illescas, G. A., & Alvarado, A. E., & Portillo, J. R. (2019, June), Active, Topic-centered Learning Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32032

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