June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering
Active learning differs from traditional instructional pedagogy by emphasizing student activities and engagement in the learning process. The most frequently discussed types of active learning are collaborative learning, co-operative learning, and problem-based learning. Various studies have shown that active learning is gaining attention in the education community, and increases student performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM subjects.
Critical thinking and problem solving are fundamental skills that are coveted by employers of engineering graduates. Both require students to demonstrate not only solid domain knowledge, but the application of the knowledge in addressing real-world problems. Active learning, with its common forms, is ideal to blend pertinent curriculum elements to help students develop the highly-sought abilities. The issues now become: a) identifying the proper problem to provide context and motivation; and b) finding the technical vehicle for student engagement and assessment. For the first issue, we have found that providing accurate and timely diagnosis for system failures or malfunctions is a common theme in many STEM, in particular engineering and technology disciplines, and embodies the culmination of the aforementioned skills. For the second issue where students' mastery of the skills is to be demonstrated and evaluated, we believe concept maps are a fitting tool because of their use of both content and process knowledge to create visual maps of a diagnostic strategy to identify technical problems.
From 2012 to 2015, the National Science Foundation funded the Advancing Diagnostic Skills Training in the Undergraduate Technology and Engineering Curriculum at Indiana State University. The work was to experiment with using conceptual mapping to help undergraduates become more “flexible thinkers” relative to technical problem solving. For research purposes, we focused our attention on the diagnostic phase of technical troubleshooting. The modules were tested at five institutions and by over one hundred students in engineering technology programs. In this paper we collage student and faculty feedback, both qualitatively and quantitatively, from these trials. Furthermore, through these data we will present our analysis and assessment of concept map based approach in improving student critical thinking skills and more broadly, the effectiveness of active learning in increasing student performance in STEM.
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