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Introducing Engineering Students to Historical/Cultural Perspectives through Story-Centered On-Line Learning

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DOI: 10.4236/ce.2011.22009    6,081 Downloads   10,090 Views   Citations
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ABSTRACT

Several authors argued that history of science should be an integral part of science education; however, there are many obstacles to carry out an implementation within this approach, including that lecturers normally lack a necessary historical background (a situation that is largely aggravated in engineering faculties), and the impossi- bility of including new courses or credits in an already tight curriculum. The development of on-line modules that engineering students can work outside their normal schedule of classes, introducing historical/cultural per- spectives, is presented in this paper. E-learning and knowledge management strategies are used in the context of science education at undergraduate and graduate levels. The approach is based on learning-by-doing in a virtual environment, and specifically presents story-centered activities, in which the student is faced with a problem and plays the role of an expert to provide a solution to the case. The specific case considered develops in the form of a controversy concerning the origin of the studies of column buckling. Two sets of information are available for navigation in the module: specific information that the student can explore (containing historical material di- rectly connected to the case provided), and more general information (providing the historical/cultural context to the problem). A first application has been made with civil engineering students, who had to write a two-page white paper as a consequence of their work on the problem. The interest generated in the participating students and the positive evaluation of their experience seems to indicate that this type of activity can serve to enhance traditional engineering lectures by incorporating a historical dimension. The present web-based approach could be extended to tackle similar conflicts in fields for which there is ample documentation available in the literature or in other historical episodes which may lead to rich discussions.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Godoy, L. (2011). Introducing Engineering Students to Historical/Cultural Perspectives through Story-Centered On-Line Learning. Creative Education, 2, 63-70. doi: 10.4236/ce.2011.22009.

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