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Formative feedback and scaffolding for developing complex problem solving and modelling outcomes

Citation

Frank, B., Simper, N., & Kaupp, J. (2017). Formative feedback and scaffolding for developing complex problem solving and modelling outcomes. European Journal of Engineering Education, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/03043797.2017.1299692

Abstract

This paper discusses the use and impact of formative feedback and scaffolding to develop outcomes for complex problem solving in a required first-year course in engineering design and practice at a medium-sized research-intensive Canadian university. In 2010, the course began to use team-based, complex, open-ended contextualised problems to develop problem solving, communications, teamwork, modelling, and professional skills. Since then, formative feedback has been incorporated into: task and process-level feedback on scaffolded tasks in-class, formative assignments, and post-assignment review. Development in complex problem solving and modelling has been assessed through analysis of responses from student surveys, direct criterion-referenced assessment of course outcomes from 2013 to 2015, and an external longitudinal study. The findings suggest that students are improving in outcomes related to complex problem solving over the duration of the course. Most notably, the addition of new feedback and scaffolding coincided with improved student performance.