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Documenting the Redesign and Scaling-up of an Ill-Structured Problem

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2018 FYEE Conference


Glassboro, New Jersey

Publication Date

July 24, 2018

Start Date

July 24, 2018

End Date

July 26, 2018

Conference Session

Technical Session I

Tagged Topic

FYEE Conference Sessions

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Paper Authors


Courtney June Faber University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Courtney is a Research Assistant Professor and Lecturer in the Cook Grand Challenge Engineering Honors Program at the University of Tennessee. She completed her Ph.D. in Engineering & Science Education at Clemson University. Prior to her Ph.D. work, she received her B.S. in Bioengineering at Clemson University and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. Courtney’s research interests include epistemic cognition in the context of problem solving, and researcher identity.

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Engineering education strives to prepare students to solve complex problems within rapidly changing, multi-disciplinary environments. One approach to address this need is to provide students with the opportunity to experience ill-structured problems throughout their undergraduate studies. The goal of this work was to redesign and scale-up an ill-structured problem within a first-year physics for engineers course with 130 students. The ill-structured problem assignment was initially piloted in the spring of 2017 with a smaller group of students. The outcomes of the pilot informed revisions to the problem and development of a robust assignment packet to scaffold students as they tackled the problem. One of our major concerns with scaling the assignment for a larger course was the ability for the instructor to assess all of the students’ work in an appropriate amount of time. As such, we looked to the problem solving literature where we identified and modified a rubric to assess each step of the problem solving process. The outcomes of this work can provide other instructors with steps, resources, and ideas about how to incorporate ill-structured problems in their classes.

Faber, C. J. (2018, July), Documenting the Redesign and Scaling-up of an Ill-Structured Problem Paper presented at 2018 FYEE Conference, Glassboro, New Jersey. 10.18260/1-2--31393

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