Fostering discovery-based learning in a structural engineering laboratory course

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Date of Original Version



Engineers ought to be recognized as integrative thinkers, drawing on several bodies of knowledge to define complex problems, interpret data, formulate suitable solutions, and communicate findings while understanding the societal context of their work. In recent years, there has been support to de-fragment undergraduate engineering education. It is important to recognize, however, that civil engineering educational reform will require more than simply introducing interdisciplinary topics to the curriculum in the traditional way. Students need to be challenged to make meaningful connections between new advanced materials and their basic understanding of structural systems. This paper describes the development of an innovative, student-focused undergraduate structural instrumentation and measurements laboratory at the University of Rhode Island. The laboratory uses a discovery-based approach to learning by allowing students to design their own experiments. Students are challenged to reach a deeper level of understanding by clearly defining an engineering problem, outlining several testing approaches, and effectively communicating with group members.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

IMSCI 2008 - 2nd International Multi-Conference on Society, Cybernetics and Informatics, Proceedings



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