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Effectiveness of Incorporating Inquiry-Based Learning into Pre-Laboratory Exercises

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Materials Division Technical Session

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Rika Wright Carlsen Robert Morris University

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Rika Wright Carlsen is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Robert Morris University. She also serves as a Coordinator of Outreach for the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Minor in Bioengineering) from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently teaches courses in statics and strength of materials, fluid mechanics, biomedical engineering principles, and biomaterials. Her research interests lie in the areas of injury biomechanics, tissue mechanics, finite element modeling, and bio-hybrid systems.

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To incorporate a greater level of inquiry-based learning into our Introduction to Biomaterials course, we have designed several pre-laboratory exercises that not only serve the purpose of familiarizing students with the concepts, equipment, and methods that will be introduced in the laboratory, but also actively engages students in the learning process. Students are presented with a biomaterials problem related to the laboratory activity and are asked to generate knowledge through a scientific literature review, synthesize and interpret their findings, and propose a potential solution to the problem. After receiving instructor’s feedback on their proposed ideas, the students implement these ideas in the laboratory exercise. It is hypothesized that this approach allows students to take greater ownership of the laboratory exercises, increases motivation, and allows them to develop a deeper understanding of the concepts taught in the laboratory. Through a student survey, we study the effectiveness of this inquiry-based approach on the learning outcomes and learning experiences of the students. The results of the survey suggest that incorporation of the pre-laboratory activities enhance student learning; however, its effect on student motivation and interest in research is less conclusive.

Carlsen, R. W. (2017, June), Effectiveness of Incorporating Inquiry-Based Learning into Pre-Laboratory Exercises Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28206

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