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(NSF Engineering Education Division Grant EEC-0314875)
This project aims to improve student comprehension and retention of basic STEM material (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). This will be accomplished though the development of a multi-semester, interwoven dynamic systems project, which will integrate STEM material in a relevant, meaningful way. The project develops a variety of materials covering theory, analytical tools, software tutorials, lab problem-solving, in-class projects and presentations, as well as an interactive online experiment. Upon completion, this project will provide a multitude of tools which can be easily transferred to the teaching of core STEM material in all engineering disciplines, at any institution.
The problem with current teaching methods is that, from a student perspective, course material seems disjointed from one course to another. This is largely due to the manner in which individual courses/material are presented. In an educational environment, material is organized into modules of similar generic information (courses). These courses are presented in a sequential format, building up sets of tools which are necessary for upper level specialized courses in a particular field of study (mechanical, civil, chemical, etc). From the perspective of the inexperienced students, these specific tools seem to have no relationship whatsoever to material presented later in the curriculum. Material that is not consistently applied and made to seem relevant is quickly forgotten.
This project therefore attempts to remedy these flaws by developing a multi-semester, interwoven project which will unite material from different courses. Dynamic systems naturally incorporates a wide variety of tools and provides a logical way to tie the material together.