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Meaningfully Engaging Large Student Groups in Advanced Materials Labs

Dr Timothy Chambers | University of Michigan

Meaningfully Engaging Large Student Groups in Advanced Materials Labs

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Advanced laboratory courses in materials science pose unique challenges to instructors. One such challenge is keeping large groups of students engaged when equipment availability is limited. However, evidence-based pedagogical techniques informed by STEM education research give us ways to overcome these challenges. This talk presents methods we have successfully applied in our upper-division labs to keep students not merely busy, but actively engaged in cognitively rich and meaningful investigations, despite equipment limitations. A central component of these methods is the use of both individual and team-based computational and writing activities that explicitly interconnect theory and experiment and give students options to pursue their own interests within the context of the lab class. Our work in this area also addresses broader issues of interest to the community such as integrating computation into the curriculum and providing opportunities for individualized instruction.