Project introduction and background information
In this project we aim to investigate how to enhance connections between the mathematics and engineering knowledge; how to make/design connections between modules; and how to support students to benefit from these connections and develop suitable individual learning paths. The project will be conducted in collaboration between the Applied Physics Department, the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and the Eindhoven School of Education. The case/s of selected physics courses will be explored with respect to connections between the mathematics (taught in separate modules/courses) and these physics courses, and how students develop their own learning paths through the courses, in particular how they use previously learnt mathematical knowledge in the physics courses. The project consists of 3 phases:
- Phase 1- Exploratory study: Investigating the connections made, and those that could beneficially be made (for student learning), in selected mathematics and physics courses/modules. Leaning on previously developed tools/taxonomies, we will develop a tool/taxonomy that establishes appropriate descriptions of learning entry requirements and outcomes (of ‘mathematics in/for physics’ courses/modules).
- Phase 2- Design & evaluation: Discussing the findings from the exploratory study, and identify ways of connecting the courses/modules and the mathematics in/for the modules/courses using the taxonomy. Then web- based support structures for students will be developed, emphasizing how students can learn how to “feed back” (use the previously learnt), “feed up” (connect to present course learning objectives/gains), and “feed forward” (connect to future courses and learning objectives). The newly developed support structures will be presented for validation. Lastly, the newly “connected’ course module/s (or aspects of these modules/courses) will be implemented and evaluated.
- Phase 3- Consolidation & upscaling: In this phase the findings of the study will be disseminated and, more importantly, discussed with teachers of other courses in terms of whether and how the findings (and the tools developed) might have implications for their practice and other courses.
Objective and expected outcomes
The main research question is "In which ways can modularized courses be enhanced for the benefit of student learning, in particular in terms of mathematics in/for engineering education? We aim to investigate how to enhance connections between the mathematics and engineering knowledge; how to make/design connections between modules; and how to support students to benefit from these connections and develop suitable individual learning paths.
Results and learnings
The study is original, as it combines (STEM) learning theory with curriculum development in terms of modularization and individual student learning paths. It is policy relevant for TU/e, as it directly links to the TU/e Strategy 2030 in terms of providing evidence about modularization (and best practice) in engineering education with respect to student-directed learning. It has implications for practice, as it provides tools and evidence of how curriculum change (in terms of modularization and student-directed learning) can be supported.