Improving Student Readiness for Inquiry-Based Learning: An Engineering Case Study
Keywords:student research, inquiry-based learning, multidisciplinary modeling
During the past decade, the authors have sought to advance student research in a predominantly teaching institution. The two primary challenges were: academic - how to introduce and promote inquiry-based learning (IBL) given the constraints, and business - how to obtain and sustain funding in the area of industry-sponsored research. The authors developed a successful multidisciplinary modeling course that integrates four teaching and learning strategies and where key learning outcomes strengthen student readiness to engage in research. The course culminates with research performed as part of an IBL strategy that is relevant and supported by mentoring. The benefits include development of intellectual and practical skills that underlie a central activity of engineering design. The course structure, evidence of student work, and evolution over time to meet challenges are presented and discussed. Most importantly, the potential of this strategy to be implemented across other topical areas is addressed. Student participation in research improves learning of engineering and scientific concepts, increases interaction with faculty and industry sponsors, and provides opportunities for work in emerging technology areas. Benefits accrue both to students who pursue a research career and to those who enter applied fields by strengthening their ability to propose innovative solutions.
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