Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies
Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory maintains that learning occurs through a combination of doing as well as reflecting on the doing. Likewise, Schon’s Theory of the Reflective Practitioner highlights the value of reflection within professional practice, in particular when dealing with complex problems within professional activity. In line with this, prompting students to reflect on their problem solving is a means of scaffolding them to solve complex problems. In the present work, we continue our ongoing study of scaffolding students in completing open-ended bioengineering laboratory projects, but with a focus on students’ reflections on the experiences gained during the scaffolding. These open-ended projects involved conducting virtual experiments using MATLAB to analyze unknown systems using time and frequency-domain analysis techniques. The systems were both biological (e.g., human balance simulation) as well as non-biological. Students’ experiences included decomposition of the problem, in-class active learning with instructor guidance and interaction, incremental and progressive technical writing, systematic progress monitoring, and timely written guidance and feedback.
In our preliminary study of scaffolding, students’ reflections on the scaffolding provided were positive. To continue our investigation, we asked students to more frequently reflect on the value of the experiences offered to them in the bio-signals laboratory using both a written prompt embedded within a progress report as well as individual reflective interviews. Two additional prompts within the progress reports asked students to reflect on any breakthrough or particularly memorable moments related to the successful completion of their first two projects. Our research objective involves assessing students’ development in becoming capable problem solvers as well as determining those experiences perceived as most valuable or impactful to focus instructional and scaffolding efforts. The instructor and assessment analyst jointly content-analyzed all the reflections using a coding scheme developed during their preliminary work with scaffolding. The content analysis showed the students to most frequently reflect on the positive value of application of lecture content to real problems, teamwork, computer programming experience, instructor guidance and feedback, and experimentation. With this type of reflective information, we can determine best practices for scaffolding students in open-ended problem solving in laboratories of this kind.
Clark, R. M., & Mahboobin, A. (2018, June), Student Reflections on Experiences Gained from an Open-ended Problem-solving Bio-signals Laboratory Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31017
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