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Open Beginning Projects: A Flexible Approach To Encouraging Student Curiosity And Creativity.

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.765.1 - 6.765.4



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Paper Authors

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S. Scott Moor

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

Session 1313

Open Beginning Projects: A flexible approach to encouraging student curiosity and creativity S. Scott Moor Lafayette College


In the rush to fulfill all that they must do, our students often find little time or encouragement to indulge their curiosity. To encourage curiosity, to allow for the diversity of our students tastes and abilities, and to allow for creativity, I introduced a flexible system of small student defined projects. In addition to being open-ended, these projects are open at the very beginning. Students are given the option of defining projects involving any topic related in the course. These projects include experimental studies, the creation of demonstrations for K-12 students on concepts from the course, the reviewing of literature articles, and the presentation of short lectures. The exact project definition and point value is negotiated before the projects are begun. Projects are either deemed complete and the full point value awarded or they are returned for further work. They are due approximately four weeks before the end of the term to allow them to be returned for additional work if necessary. In this presentation I review the details of the set up and results of this approach for a Chemical Engineering Kinetics Class. In addition I will explain the key goals and how well they were met. I found that the key to the success of this effort was providing the students with a long list of possible example projects and their point value. The resulting projects are sometimes just the necessary work to fulfill a requirement but many times they show great creativity and insight.

I. Introduction

I began using open beginning projects in our senior course in equilibrium and kinetics for several reasons. My goals were: (1) to encourage students curiosity, (2) to recognize the diversity of our students desires and interests, (3) to encourage, particularly our top students, to address more challenging problems, (4) to allow these seniors to order their own work and (5) to encourage completion of quality work to an engineering standard (rather than grading on a curve). This effort began several years ago and has been refined over the years.

II. Approach

The basic approach is to allow students to design their own small projects with a wide range of possible tasks and point values. Students propose a project area and I help them define the project and the point value for the project. One project point was worth the equivalent of 1% in their final grade. Points were given for project “size” and for original or creative content. I pointed out to students that they would receive the most credit for their effort if they chose creative rather than obvious projects. Students could complete as many small projects as they liked up to a total of ten points. All other portions of the course added up to 95%. Thus students Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright @2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Moor, S. S. (2001, June), Open Beginning Projects: A Flexible Approach To Encouraging Student Curiosity And Creativity. Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9628

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