Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Integrated Science Education (ISE)

Since the beginning of 2006 I am the projectmanager of a DU project called Integrated Science Education (ISE). The basis idea is to integrate (or incorporate if you like) mathematics content in science courses. It is a major problem that students in a course on Quantummechanics for example have big problems in applying the correct mathematical concepts. The preceding Calculus I course does not look forward into possible contexts in which the mathematical concepts can be applied. The other way round the Quantummechnanics course doesn't look back in order to incorporate the abstract mathematical concepts into the cognitive schemes of a student. In the didactical model we strongly stress that explicit feedback to previous mathematical concepts is needed in order to incorporate them. It is more that just mentioning that the concept has been addressed earlier. Students should be confronted again with exercises and assignments, so they have to be actively involved in understanding and applying the relevant concept(s). The point is that transfer between the two domains is a big problemn. The project is a so-called transition project focused on integrating (abstract) math into science courses. Moreover, we are trying to include applications like Maple, Maple TA, and Simulink that can provide a natural 'bridge' between the two domains. At this moment we are close to finishing the instructional design. In two weeks the first course (Engineering for Advanced Technology) that is changed according to the principles of ISE will run at the University of Twente. Next courses will start in january 2007. Other partners in this project are the University of Amsterdam and Saxion University. The first evaluation results are expected by the end of November. Obviously, these results will determine whether the ISE model will be adopted in other curricula or even other institutions.

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