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Engaging first-year science students through a multi-disciplinary approach.

Author Eilish McLoughlin and Odilla Finlayson,
Abstract First year undergraduate science students generally attend lecture and laboratory modules in introductory Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Mathematics, regardless of their ultimate degree programme. Students often do not see the links between these subject areas and in some cases, even question the relevance and importance of each discipline. In this initiative, students were engaged in all the disciplines through tackling multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary science problems, in small groups, facilitated by postgraduate tutors. Topical problems included nuclear energy, brewing, water treatment and environmental issues of oil pollution. As a result of this module, students gained an appreciation of the relevance of all science disciplines and of the importance of communication skills. Evidence obtained from analysis of student feedback, over a four year implementation period with over 600 students, indicates that while many students engage fully with the content, others find the open nature of the problems less appealing. A discussion of the challenges involved in student assessment and in devising suitable problems will be presented in this paper.
Keywords Multidisciplinary, science, small-group, problems.
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2010
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