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Understanding Micrographs: An Educational Activity

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.680.1 - 5.680.6



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Session 3664

Understanding Micrographs: An Educational Activity Craig Johnson Central Washington University


It is commonly accepted that there are various teaching and learning styles, and that different combinations are more effective depending on the participants and environment. Moreover, learning which involves more than listening, such as teamwork and labwork, will benefit comprehension and retention. Most materials textbooks do not have an abundance of these educational activities. This paper introduces a cooperative learning activity supporting the topic of micrographs and microstructural characterization. It takes at least half an hour, and is flexible in scope of content. It starts with a short introduction on outcomes, and then has the students discuss terminology with their neighbors. After another short discussion, the students pair off and follow a procedure for verbally describing a known microstructure, and having their partner listen and recreate it. To conclude the activity, the class has a discussion of the student’s experiences. A critical thinking question is provided as an assessment tool.


Enhancing communication and teamwork skills is an outcome stated in the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology1, and is approached in different ways. The Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) Program at Central Washington University (CWU) has a number of course requirements addressing technical writing, presentations and speaking. However, unlike Seat and Lord2, we have no course requirement dedicated to group skills and further integration at a program level. In CWU’s MET program almost all of the courses have some in-situ laboratory work, and therefore an opportunity to build teamwork skills on an activity level.

Class Activities

For a number of years we have known of different teaching and learning styles, in many ways best defined by personal traits (e.g. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator3). Felder incorporated different educational methods into his chemistry courses at North Carolina State University, and eventually took his message in a workshop forum to new faculty across the country. A workshop at Washington State University4 referenced articles on topics such as student diversity5 and generating creativity6. But applying the concepts to a particular field, program and course requires a methodology that was not addressed.

In an informal survey of MET textbooks, it was found that they are not structured for intra-group learning. Two other resources proved useful is generating discrete course activities. The Center

Johnson, C. (2000, June), Understanding Micrographs: An Educational Activity Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8791

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