NSF CAREER Project: Characterizing, Understanding, and Integrating Complex Problem Solving in Engineering Education
- Dr. Olga Pierrakos (Department of Engineering, JMU, Principal Investigator)
- Ms. Anna Zilberberg (Center for Assessment and Research Studies, JMU, Graduate Student)
- Ms. Erin Thompson (School Psychology Program, JMU, Graduate Student)
- Dr. Robin Anderson (Center for Assessment and Research Studies, JMU, Collaborator)
- Brittany Toney (Department of Engineering, JMU, Undergraduate Student)
- Dana Anderson (Department of Engineering, JMU, Undergraduate Student)
There has been much criticism about undergraduate engineering education not focusing on real-world contexts which are most often associated to complex and ill-structured domains. Rather, undergraduate engineering education mainly focuses on problems that are well defined and structured. To improve engineering education, it is essential that curricula bring students to high levels of cognitive development by exposing them to real-world problem solving. Undergraduate research and industry experiences provide a strong basis for our students to learn these essential, problem-based, and globally competitive skills. Yet, although such experiences offer many benefits and enable engineering students to begin the practice of solving real-world complex problems, there is a lack of research and empirical studies on understanding the nature of these experiences and students’ learning outcomes. Our goal is to characterize and understand complex problem solving in real-world engineering settings as a means of integrating these essential problem solving skills in engineering education settings. Research on complex problem solving and learning can provide a strong framework on promoting and fostering adaptive expertise, cognitive flexibility, creativity, and innovation. Employing a mixed-methods approach, we will focus on better understanding the nature of these two highly promoted experiences as well as understanding students’ learning outcomes. The educational component of this research project will involve the development, implementation, and evaluation of instructional material focused on transferring complex problem solving to undergraduate courses, high school engineering courses, and K-12 educational settings.
Funding Source or Sponsor:
This project is supported by a National Science Foundation CAREER award. (Grant No. EEC 0846468)
- Have a wonderful summer!
- 2013 Summer Session