Engineering Faculty Awarded PSEER Funding To Investigate Memorization Versus Problem Solving

Posted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Written by Admin

Dr Karen Gordon, Dr Julie Vale, Dr Ryan Clemmer, School of Engineering
Dr Karen Gordon, Dr Julie Vale, Dr Ryan Clemmer, School of Engineering

Dr Karen Gordon, Dr. Julie Vale, and Dr. Ryan Clemmer have been awarded funding from PSEER to investigate perspectives on memorization and problem solving for students studying in the School of Engineering. 

Project Description: 

Over the past several years, faculty in the School of Engineering have been noting an apparent increase in student reliance on memorization rather than deeper learning.  While memorization is a critical component to education, it is seemingly being emphasized in students at the expense of problem analysis skill development.  This research project surveys undergraduate students in engineering, to determine their perspectives on the importance of memorization in their undergraduate education.  The survey also provides a summary of the learning style of each student (ie., deep or surface approach to learning) which may be linked to student perspectives of the role of memorization and student performance.  

Karen Gordon:  

I have been a professor in the School of Engineering since 2004, with research interests in the area of biomechanics, orthopaedics and soft tissue modelling. I have always enjoyed teaching, and over the last 5 years, have also developed interests in best teaching practices, learning outcomes and pedagogy. The multi-disciplinary nature of education research is both intriguing and challenging.

Julie Vale:  

I am a teaching-focused associate professor in the School of Engineering and am actively working on pedagogical research in the areas of student engagement in large classes, Problem Analysis, capstone experiences, and Learning Outcomes. I am also engaged in discipline-specific research, using my expertise in control theory to support regular faculty member's research in areas such as biomechanics, optofluidics, and robotics. 

Ryan Clemmer:  

I was hired as a teaching-focused professor in the School of Engineering in 2012, with research and teaching interests in the area of materials, design, and fuel cell technology. With an emphasis on teaching, I have always had an interest in enhancing the student learning experience and more recently, developing a greater understanding of how people learn. Drawing on these interests, the development of best teaching practices in engineering education is an intriguing opportunity. 

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