Materials science and engineering is often referred to as a “discovery” major, meaning that many students do not fully appreciate the breadth of materials science, nor do they understand how it relates to their chosen field of study. Students not majoring in the field are often exposed to materials knowledge in a limited number of courses, yet are often asked to apply knowledge of materials science and engineering as they work on independent or team based projects. The team elected a constructivist learning approach to test the hypothesis that student appreciation for materials science will be enhanced when working on an independent project that is intimately related to their broader career interest. In addition, the value of different mentoring approaches (peer-peer, expert-student) to the learning outcomes of the project will be examined. The course is a 106-student course that is offered to all engineering majors, and is generally composed of students from bioengineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and is the first course for materials science and engineering students. Students were asked to select a topic related to their professional interest. A Wiki-style article was assigned that asked students to deconstruct the life cycle of the primary material associated with the topic. Students were asked to consider ore extraction, raw material processing, product manufacturing, and end-of-life of the material, with a primary focus on the materials processing-properties-structure triad. Projects will be assessed by a team of faculty and graduate students who are not responsible for the course using a cognitive domain rubric. In addition, students will be asked to complete a survey that both addresses the cognitive domain as well as the affective domain related to the connections between concepts in materials science and their professional goals. Data will be compared across groups provided different types of mentorship during the development of their project. We will report on the final data and correlations extracted from this course to address whether project-based learning aids in enhancing student appreciation for materials science and engineering and how the utilization of different mentoring types enhances the effect.
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.