This project will contribute to the research on engineering learning mechanisms by designing and investigating the impact of pedagogical approaches on the quality of students? solutions to complex mathematical modeling problems and developing guidelines for providing effective formative feedback on students? modeling work. Mathematical model-eliciting activities (MEAs), based on the models and modeling theoretical framework, provide engineering students with opportunities to engage in solving complex problems and develop teaming and communication skills. Recent work has revealed that instructors and peers have considerable difficulty providing feedback that is meaningful to students, causing students to have difficulty interpreting and utilizing the feedback effectively to improve their math models. This limits student learning that can be achieved through iterative development of solutions to these complex problems. Pedagogical approaches are needed to improve instructor and peer feedback and help students learn to interpret and respond to feedback. Recent development of tools for assessing and evaluating student work across three dimensions, mathematical model, re-usability & share-ability, and audience, will enable investigations into pedagogical approaches around qualitative feedback. These approaches will be developed, implemented and researched with the intent of taking full advantage of the nature of MEAs and the assessment and evaluation tools to develop students? knowledge and skills by improving their ability to interpret and utilize feedback. What is ultimately sought is a clearer picture of the relationship between feedback and its impact on students? learning as viewed through their work products and interactions.
The future engineering workforce must be prepared to address increasingly complex and ambiguous problems, and effectively teaching open-ended problem solving has been a challenge for engineering education. An investment in the development of pedagogical approaches around feedback will be a step towards growing a community of engineering educators who are better able to teach open-ended complex problems. This work will contribute to assessments of student learning in complex problem-solving situations and help build a cadre of engineering graduates better able to solve the next generation of complex problems. Principles and guidelines for providing appropriate feedback will greatly facilitate the next steps in dissemination of models and modeling pedagogies to other educational settings.