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ERIC Number: EJ1178426
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-May
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0018-9359
Scaffolding to Support Problem-Solving Performance in a Bioengineering Lab--A Case Study
Clark, Renee M.; Mahboobin, Arash
IEEE Transactions on Education, v61 2 p109-118 May 2018
Background: Engineering programs must equip students to solve open-ended workplace problems. However, the literature points to actual or potential difficulties faced by students in solving open-ended or complex problems. During Fall 2014, the authors' students experienced difficulties in solving open-ended bio-signals laboratory problems of designing input signals to analyze unknown systems via MATLAB programming. These difficulties resulted in low performance. Intended Outcomes: To support, or scaffold, problem-solving in subsequent semesters, a strategy of frequent and timely monitoring and feedback was used. The hypotheses were that these scaffolding strategies would be associated with enhanced performance on open-ended projects, and would support students in similar future work once removed. Application Design: Based upon strategies from the scaffolding literature, assignments that guided problem decomposition were used. Flipped instruction challenged students to prepare for the laboratory by reviewing worked programming examples and completing online assessments. The laboratory sessions were reserved for collaborative, hands-on programming, with instructor oversight, as in a problem-based learning environment. Students submitted frequent progress reports for self-monitoring and feedback throughout each project. Findings: A statistical comparison of project scores across semesters revealed performance improvements with scaffolding. Post-scaffolding assessment in a follow-up course determined scaffolding to be helpful and applicable by these students for similar projects. These preliminary results are important for STEM students and instructors encountering challenges with open-ended problem-solving of this nature, and they provide quantitative evidence recently called for by the STEM scaffolding literature.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A