June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.140.1 - 22.140.16
Addressing Misconceptions and Knowledge Gaps in the Restructuring of Materials Course Content to Enhance Student Conceptual ChangeIt is generally acknowledged in science and engineering education research that students haveprior knowledge about how the world works, such as preconceptions and misconceptions, and, inorder create, develop, or restructure instructional materials and activities, they must be informedby that prior knowledge. In a sense, prior knowledge in a classroom setting also consists of,besides preconceptions and misconceptions, knowledge gaps, limited language skills, as well asvarying analytical, computational, and graphical skills. As found in science education, effectiveinstructional materials and classroom practice are informed and address information from broadformative assessment of foundational knowledge of students learning new content. Inengineering education, instruction must build on this idea to teach students not only aboutscientific phenomena, but application of scientific phenomena to engineering applications. In thisresearch, teaching and learning materials and activities to do this have been informed byassessment results that create such instructional challenges in an introductory materials course.Information from a concept inventory, pre-post concept question sets, team structured questionsand activities, and classroom dialogue have been used to create questions and activities intomaterials utilizing probing questions and cognitive dissonance to promote conceptual change,skill development, and effective dialogue and communication. Incorporating hard data and datamanipulation in "explain and predict activities" forces students to explain seemingly anomalousdata to address preconceptions, misconceptions, and knowledge gaps. Effective instructionalmaterials can not only address student issues, but also inform instructor practice to enhancehis/her pedagogical content knowledge. In one example, a graph might show the effect of alloyconcentration on tensile strength across a range of compositions of a binary alloy. Since themaximum strength of an example Cu-Ni alloy occurs between the two pure metals, students mustdevelop their own mental model to reconcile an answer to the question, "Why is it that adding asmall amount of a weaker metal (eg. Cu) to a stronger metal (eg. Ni) makes the stronger metaleven stronger?" Students using a traditional macroscopic "rule of mixtures" model must find analternative to explain such a phenomenon. As such, in order to give a rational answer, studentsmay consider adopting the more conceptually challenging atomic level model of "dislocationmotion barriers" to explain such phenomena. As such, it may then become possible to effectivelyrepair this misconception and revise the student's mental model of deformation and strength ofmetals. In this paper a variety of methods of implementing informed instructional materials,activities, and tools into the classroom are presented, discussed, and illustrated with examples.These will be presented and discussed in more detail in the full paper with the goal of providinga possible pathway to broader implementation of innovative pedagogy by more instructors andpossibly other engineering disciplines.
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