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Application Of Scaffolding To Introductory Matlab

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

How We Teach Problem Solving?

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.211.1 - 9.211.9



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Paper Authors

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Mark Urban-Lurain

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Taner Eskil

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Marilyn Amey

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Timothy Hinds

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Jon Sticklen

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session Number 3553

Application of Object-Centered Scaffolding to Introductory MatLab

Jon Sticklen, Marilyn Amey, Taner Eskil, Timothy Hinds, Mark Urban-Lurain Michigan State University


In this report, an extension to the standard sense of scaffolding as used in the learning litera- ture is proposed. Object scaffolding is proposed as a pedagogical technique in which current stu- dent learning is anchored by a conceptual map resultant from previous learning. This report focuses specifically on the use of object scaffolding for freshman level instruction in MatLab. MatLab is rapidly gaining acceptance if not defacto default status as the computational tool of choice in many engineering colleges. In the majority of universities in which MatLab plays the role of preferred computational tool in the undergraduate engineering curriculum, MatLab is typi- cally introduced in freshman or sophomore courses. There are a number of choices for textbooks which introduce MatLab. But all can be characterized as having a “steep learning curve.” Current experience in directly applying the proposed expanded version of scaffolding to intro- ductory MatLab is described. The conceptual starting point is the observation that freshman engi- neering students do not arrive in introductory MatLab courses with significant experience with array/matrix formulation of problem solutions, nor with computational operations such as matrix multiplication. Given this observation, rapid introduction of MatLab starting with array/matrix operations from the outset is ill advised. However, beginning engineering students do have background in scalar operations. Starting with “MatLab as Scientific Calculator” and focusing on scalar expressions and becoming familiar with the MatLab environment, then moving systematically to “Vector Operations,” and then finally to “Array and Matrix Operations” enables student linkages from the outset with past learn- ing. Once student conceptual organization for MatLab scalar operations solidifies, understanding of vector operations is a small step, with the most significant new concept being one-dimensional indexing into a vector. From there, two dimensional indexing also becomes a relatively small step, and this opens the way for introduction of the full range of array and matrix operations that is linked to past student learning.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Urban-Lurain, M., & Eskil, T., & Amey, M., & Hinds, T., & Sticklen, J. (2004, June), Application Of Scaffolding To Introductory Matlab Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13123

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