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Applying A Lecture Structuring Method For Teaching Abstract Concepts In Engineering
Teaching concepts that are highly abstract or mathematical is a significant challenge in engineering education. Students have a difficult time relating abstract concepts to their own experience and knowledge. Educational research has shown that students can only learn new concepts by connecting them to relevant prior knowledge. The other challenge that arises in teaching abstract concepts is getting students to actually engage during the discussion. Techniques described as active learning have gained much support for their ability to get students to engage. However, active learning techniques often require students to work in small groups. This study will describe efforts to apply a lecture structuring method found in a k-12 curriculum to teach abstract engineering concepts. The method provides a structure to the lecture that encourages students to connect their relevant prior knowledge to the new concept by comparing and contrasting examples given by the instructor. The method has 5 steps and has been tried in a couple of mechanical engineering courses. This paper will discuss some relevant previous research, some best practices with the method, and some observations. Future work will attempt to quantify the benefits of using this approach.