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Students' curiosity often seems nearly nonexistent in a lecture setting; we discuss a variety of possible reasons for this, but it is the instructor who typically poses questions while only a few students, usually the better ones, respond. As we have developed and implemented the use of InkSurvey to collect real-time formative assessment, we have discovered that it can serve in an unanticipated role: to promote curiosity in engineering physics undergraduates. Curiosity often motivates creative, innovative people. To encourage such curiosity, we solicit questions submitted real-time via InkSurvey and pen-enabled mobile devices (Tablet PCs) in response to interactive simulations (applets) run either before or in class. This provides students with practice in asking questions, increases metacognition, and serves as a rich springboard from which to introduce content and/or address misconceptions. We describe the procedure for measuring curiosity and results from applying this method in a junior level electromagnetics engineering physics course. We conclude that students are indeed more curious than they appear in class, and students participate even without extrinsic motivation. This method of enhancing curiosity using interactive simulations coupled with real-time formative assessment in response to open-format questions could be implemented in a wide variety of engineering courses as well as elsewhere.
Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2012
Date of Conference: 3-6 Oct. 2012