Integrating environmental sustainability in undergraduate mechanical engineering courses using guided discovery instruction

by | Oct 6, 2018

Authors: Devarajan Ramanujan, Ninger Zhou & Karthik Ramani
Journal of Cleaner Production 207 (2019): 190-203.

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In this paper, we discuss a guided discovery instruction approach for integrating environmental sustainability in undergraduate mechanical engineering courses. To validate the proposed approach, we conducted two studies with students in a computer-aided design and prototyping course. The first study verified the feasibility of incorporating guided discovery instruction for teaching environmental sustainability using a structural shape synthesis design task. The second study compared the influences of the guided discovery instruction approach and traditional lecture-based instruction on students’ understanding of environmental sustainability concepts. Results show the guided discovery instruction approach facilitated a better understanding of interactions among design parameters and the resulting environmental impact. We also found that students in the guided discovery instruction group gave more prominence to modifying design parameters specific to mechanical engineering concepts taught in the course. These findings suggest that using guided discovery instruction to teach environmental sustainability in undergraduate mechanical engineering courses is beneficial for promoting students’ understanding of complex relationships between domain-specific design parameters and environmental sustainability.

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