Asee peer logo

Csi (Crash Scene Investigation): An Inquiry Based Learning Project

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.424.1 - 12.424.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Janice Miller-Young Mount Royal College

visit author page

JANICE MILLER-YOUNG is a P.Eng. with a background in mechanical engineering and a PhD in biomechanics. She has worked in the oil industry, has consulted for sports equipment companies and academics on biomechanics research, and has been teaching engineering for five years.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

CSI (Crash Scene Investigation): An inquiry-based learning project. Introduction

Student-centered instruction has been shown to lead to increased motivation to learn, greater retention of knowledge, deeper understanding and more positive attitudes toward the subject being taught1. Student-centered instruction includes inductive learning (having students confront problems before they are given all the material needed to solve them), active learning (replacing some lecturing with participatory exercises done by individuals or small groups in class), and cooperative learning (having students complete some assignments in teams).

Students also require communication, writing and critical thinking skills in order to succeed in the workplace. Integrating writing and other critical thinking activities into a course increases students’ learning while teaching them skills for posing questions, proposing hypotheses, gathering and analyzing data and making arguments2. Principles for supporting critical thinking include: • Problems, questions, or issues are the point of entry into the subject and a source of motivation for sustained inquiry • Instructor balances challenges to think critically with support tailored to students’ needs • Courses are assignment-centered rather than lecture-centered • Students are required to formulate and justify their ideas in writing or other appropriate methods • Students collaborate to learn and stretch their thinking. • The developmental needs of students are acknowledged and used as information in the design of the course. • Instructors make standards explicit and then help students learn how to achieve them.3

Unfortunately, the traditional engineering lecture emphasizes reliance on the instructor for the delivery of facts and principles rather than teaching students what solving real-world problems involves –analyzing and synthesizing the best available data, making assumptions and simplifications when necessary, and recognizing the limitations of the analysis. Many instructors perhaps would like to include more of the above-mentioned principles into their classes, but feel large undergraduate class sizes and difficult course content prohibits them from taking the time away from their traditional lectures.

The purpose of this is paper is to detail how a real-life forensic engineering problem, technical report writing and student-centered, inquiry-based learning concepts were incorporated into the weekly activities and term project for an engineering mechanics class. With the development of an appropriate problem, the project structure could be incorporated into any class. Techniques for marking engineering reports without significantly increasing instructor workload are also discussed.

Miller-Young, J. (2007, June), Csi (Crash Scene Investigation): An Inquiry Based Learning Project Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3043

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015