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Challenge-Based Instruction and Its Application in a Course in Mechanisms and Related Courses

[+] Author Affiliations
Robert A. Freeman

The University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

Paper No. DETC2010-28501, pp. 969-977; 9 pages
doi:10.1115/DETC2010-28501
From:
  • ASME 2010 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2: 34th Annual Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, August 15–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4410-6 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3881-5
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME

abstract

This paper discusses challenge based instruction (CBI) and associated materials developed for courses in Dynamics, Mechanisms, and Biomechanics. This effort is related to a College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) grant from the Department of Education, and focuses primarily on the development of adaptive expertise. In science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields the conventional approach is to teach for efficiency first and innovation only in the latter years of their curriculum. This focus on efficiency first can actually stifle attempts at innovation in later courses. One response to this issue is to change the way we teach. CBI, a form of inquiry based learning, can be simply thought of as teaching backwards. In this approach, a challenge is presented first, and the supporting theory (required to solve the challenge) second. Our implementation of CBI is built around the How People Learn (HPL) framework for effective learning environments and is realized and anchored by the STAR Legacy Cycle, as developed and fostered by the VaNTH (Vanderbilt-Northwestern-Texas-Harvard/MIT) NSF ERC for Bioengineering Educational Technologies. This cycle provides students the opportunity to immediately engage in creative activity in the “generate ideas” phase where they are asked what they think is important to know and do in solving the challenge. They are then led through a natural process of inquiry culminating in their “going public” with a solution to the challenge. Ideally, this approach develops both efficiency and innovation in parallel and results a student who is an “adaptive expert”. That is, one who can adapt their knowledge to new and novel situations outside of the context in which the knowledge was obtained.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME
Topics: Mechanisms

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