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High-Impact Practices in Materials Science Education: Student Research Internships Leading to Pedagogical Innovation in STEM Laboratory Learning Activities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 January 2017

Lon A. Porter Jr.*
Affiliation:
Department of Chemistry, Wabash College, 301 W. Wabash Ave., Crawfordsville, IN 47933, U.S.A.
*Corresponding
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Abstract

Traditional lecture-centered approaches alone are inadequate for preparing students for the challenges of creative problem solving in the STEM disciplines. As an alternative, learnercentered and other high-impact pedagogies are gaining prominence. The Wabash College 3D Printing and Fabrication Center (3D-PFC) supports several initiatives on campus, but one of the most successful is a computer-aided design (CAD) and fabrication-based undergraduate research internship program. The first cohort of four students participated in an eight-week program during the summer of 2015. A second group of the four students was successfully recruited to participate the following summer. This intensive materials science research experience challenged students to employ digital design and fabrication in the design, testing, and construction of inexpensive scientific instrumentation for use in introductory STEM courses at Wabash College. The student research interns ultimately produced a variety of successful new designs that could be produced for less than $25 per device and successfully detect analytes of interest down to concentrations in the parts per million (ppm) range. These student-produced instruments have enabled innovations in the way introductory instrumental analysis is taught on campus. Beyond summer work, the 3D-PFC staffed student interns during the academic year, where they collaborated on various cross-disciplinary projects with students and faculty from departments such as mathematics, physics, biology, rhetoric, history, classics, and English. Thus far, the student work has led to three campus presentations, four presentations at national professional conferences, and three peer-reviewed publications. The following report highlights initial progress as well as preliminary assessment findings.

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Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2017 

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References

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