Introducing Research Skills through the Use of the Scientific Method in Engineering Labs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The ability to perform research and scientific inquiries is often among the educational objectives of engineering programmes. While it is logical to think that the research skills can be developed in the labs, especially when engineering students perform quite a number of experiments while doing their studies, upon closer examination, it is apparent that most laboratory protocols in the introductory classes are demonstration based where students work on a protocol designed by the instructor to prove a concept learned in lecture. Often a laboratory manual starts with theory, description of apparatus, procedures, and then discussion questions. This flow focuses the students’ effort on proving the concept and it is not aligned with the scientific method that advocate starting with observation, forming a hypothesis, logically deriving predictions, performing experiments and finally drawing conclusions. This paper reports on the use of both case-based learning and the scientific method at a laboratory setting in a first year mechanical engineering course. In this case a scenario is provided whereby students need to form a research question and use the scientific method to attain viable technical conclusions. Students found this approach very useful and engaging. They were very motivated and worked well with their teammates to achieve the team objectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-61
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Engineering Science and Technology
Volume8
Issue numberSpecial Issue
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

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