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The overall teaching strategy in our basic materials engineering course has been transformed from deductive practice to an inductive teaching and learning system where most of the elements of a student-centered approach are present: cooperative learning, case-based teaching, active/inquiry learning, concept learning, problem-based learning, and constructive alignment. All these principles are supported by educational theory based in cognitive and social constructivism. Thus, this academic year aspects of social constructivism were emphasized and researched in the course. A new component this academic year was that the students' comprehensive research paper and oral presentations/posters were completed in teams using cooperative learning methods. Several research questions were posed. Did using the cooperative learning method improve the quality and technical depth of the research papers/presentations or improve specific learning outcomes? Did student retention and successful course completion improve? Overall, cooperative learning certainly did improve the overall scores and technical depth of the research papers and presentations. Substantial improvements in higher order thinking and language skills (analyzing and relating design requirements to complex materials properties such as viscoelasticity, anisotropy, specific strength/stiffness and phase changes) were also observed. Measurements of end-of-term student misconceptions showed improvements in scaffolding and reconstruction of knowledge in these same conceptual areas.