Materials Education Symposia - Home

International 2012 Materials Education Symposium

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An Interactive Learning Approach to Scientific Reading and Writing

Prof Alexander Wanner | Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

An Interactive Learning Approach to Scientific Reading and Writing

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First and second year engineering students are quite familiar with scientific textbooks, lecture scripts and handouts, and with whatever they find easily on the internet using ubiquitous tools like google and wikipedia. However, they are little aware of the existence, value and usefulness of original scientific literature and the ways scientific publications are structured, archived, searched, and given reference to. In this talk, an interactive learning approach is presented, aimed at getting the students more acquainted with original scientific literature, in particular in the field of materials science and engineering. Provided with newsflashs on spectacular findings from current materials research, the students are assigned the task to dig out background information which can only be found in the related original work. This way the students are introduced hands-on into the use of databases for scientific publications and become aware of the importance of meaningful and brief titles and a concise abstracts. A sportful writing exercise is a title-and-abstract contest paced at the end of the course: Provided with the recommendations on titles and abstracts given in Michael Ashby's classic paper on 'How to write a Paper', the students are asked to add a title and abstract to a given short manuscript. The proposed titles and abstracts are reviewed and rated by their peers. Throughout the course, the multifaceted communication between lecturer, student and peers is supported by the internet-based learning management system 'ILIAS', allowing to apply this approach to large classes.