"It's so Easy a Caveman can do it: " Teaching introductory material science for increased student engagement

Cindy Waters, Stephen Krause, Jacquelyn Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Education advocates and experts have a plethora of experiences and evidentiary research verifying the importance of student engagement in the education process. The millennial student is an expert at finding new tools and media resources to enhance their lives as they search for relevance in the activities they choose and the classes that they take. A challenge to educators is to increase the relevance of engineering core courses without spending an enormous amount of time planning changes to enhance student engagement. As educators, we are aware of topics in the core courses that are difficult for our students to learn, yet necessary for their development as engineers. Teaching styles that work with millennial students involve an instructor acting as facilitator of learning. Providing directed active engagement within the educational environment from the start of their experience will greatly assist the learning process of these students. The modules described in this aper were created to enhance development of students' mental models and are exciting advances for those teaching in this area because of ease of implementation and adaptation for different student populations. Implementation of these activities has the potential to lower the barrier to faculty participation in active learning. The media slogan "It's so easy, a caveperson can do it" is the guiding principle behind the development of these activities. This paper will also present reflections of a diverse crosssection of teaching faculty and students for these classroom methods to highlight how these pedagogical efforts may increase student self-efficacy for their technical learning. The research question for this work is; "To what extent do student engagement activities, such as conceptcontext worksheets, process oriented guided inquiry learning worksheets and student test design, support student learning in an Introduction to Material Science course?" In this paper we are reporting on the implementation of teaching and learning modules for such a course. The results were overwhelmingly positive when the students were asked to rate the effect of the classroom activities on their support of student learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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