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Assessing problem-solving in science and engineering programs
written by Eric Burkholder, Argenta M. Price, Michael Flynn, and Carl E. Wieman
Science and engineering (S & E) programs frequently claim that they teach undergraduate students how to be good problem solvers. However, there has been little research to-date that demonstrates this, in no small part due to the fact that measuring problem-solving is quite difficult. Our recent work characterized experts' problem-solving as carrying out a series of several dozen decisions made in solving novel problems; these decisions are remarkably consistent across S & E disciplines. Based on this, we developed a template for an assessment that measures students' problem-solving skills by posing questions that require them to make a subset of these expert decisions in suitable contexts. Preliminary results show that the assessment captures a wide range of problem-solving skills among students, and exposes key weaknesses in problem-solving. Most importantly, the data show that students' predictive frameworks--their mental models of a system's key features and the relationships between them-are less robust than experts', limiting students' ability to make predictions and explain observations while problem-solving. We provide detailed results from a pilot-test of this assessment in the context of chemical engineering design, which applies many concepts from physics. These results point to a general deficiency in undergraduate S & E programs: students are not being given the opportunity to practice expert decision-making, and thus do not develop robust predictive frameworks by the end of their undergraduate programs.
Physics Education Research Conference 2019
Part of the PER Conference series
Provo, UT: July 24-25, 2019
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education - Basic Research
- Assessment
= Instruments
- Problem Solving
= Expert-Novice Comparisons
- Student Characteristics
= Skills
- Lower Undergraduate
- Upper Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
PER-Central Type Intended Users Ratings
- PER Literature
- Researchers
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Format:
application/pdf
Mirror:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/perc.20…
Access Rights:
Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the published article's author(s), title, proceedings citation, and DOI.
Rights Holder:
American Association of Physics Teachers
DOI:
10.1119/perc.2019.pr.Burkholder
Keyword:
PERC 2019
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created January 2, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
January 6, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
January 6, 2020
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Record Link
AIP Format
E. Burkholder, A. Price, M. Flynn, and C. Wieman, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2019, Provo, UT, 2019, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15258&DocID=5170).
AJP/PRST-PER
E. Burkholder, A. Price, M. Flynn, and C. Wieman, Assessing problem-solving in science and engineering programs, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2019, Provo, UT, 2019, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15258&DocID=5170>.
APA Format
Burkholder, E., Price, A., Flynn, M., & Wieman, C. (2019, July 24-25). Assessing problem-solving in science and engineering programs. Paper presented at Physics Education Research Conference 2019, Provo, UT. Retrieved July 13, 2020, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15258&DocID=5170
Chicago Format
Burkholder, E, A. Price, M. Flynn, and C. Wieman. "Assessing problem-solving in science and engineering programs." Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2019, Provo, UT, July 24-25, 2019. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15258&DocID=5170 (accessed 13 July 2020).
MLA Format
Burkholder, Eric, Argenta M. Price, Michael Flynn, and Carl Wieman. "Assessing problem-solving in science and engineering programs." Physics Education Research Conference 2019. Provo, UT: 2019. of PER Conference. 13 July 2020 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15258&DocID=5170>.
BibTeX Export Format
@inproceedings{ Author = "Eric Burkholder and Argenta M. Price and Michael Flynn and Carl Wieman", Title = {Assessing problem-solving in science and engineering programs}, BookTitle = {Physics Education Research Conference 2019}, Address = {Provo, UT}, Series = {PER Conference}, Month = {July 24-25}, Year = {2019} }
Refer Export Format

%A Eric Burkholder
%A Argenta M. Price
%A Michael Flynn
%A Carl Wieman
%T Assessing problem-solving in science and engineering programs
%S PER Conference
%D July 24-25 2019
%C Provo, UT
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15258&DocID=5170
%O Physics Education Research Conference 2019
%O July 24-25
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Conference Proceedings
%A Burkholder, Eric
%A Price, Argenta M.
%A Flynn, Michael
%A Wieman, Carl
%D July 24-25 2019
%T Assessing problem-solving in science and engineering programs
%B Physics Education Research Conference 2019
%C Provo, UT
%S PER Conference
%8 July 24-25
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15258&DocID=5170


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