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On chunks and all that: concept learning in engineering education. Toward quality in teaching

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1 Author(s)
Heywood, J. ; Dublin Univ., Ireland

At the 1997 FIE conference Herbert Simon inferred that engineering educators could benefit from the experience of high school educators. In the discussion which followed an interlocutor argued that in his experience engineering educators were better than high school teachers. While there is no evidence to support this view it is possible to test the quality of engineering educators by establishing how their knowledge of the work of Simon and others on the differences between experts and novices, and the learning of concepts has influenced their classroom practices, if at all. The first requirement of good teaching is that learning concepts is not the easy matter it is taken to be. This is illustrated by the research of Clement in the early nineteen eighties. The second requirement is that teachers should understand how students learn. This point is illustrated by research undertaken by Fordyce who examined the differences between novices and experts in civil/structural engineering. Finally attention is drawn to studies in the nineteen fifties which show how even the simplest things we do in the classroom, such as using examples and nonexamples, have to be considered with care. Terms are clarified at the beginning of the paper.

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference, 1998. FIE '98. 28th Annual  (Volume:2 )

Date of Conference:

4-7 Nov. 1998