A significant learning approach for materials education

Sayyad Zahid Qamar, Majid Al-Maharbi, Josiah Cherian Chekotu

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Higher education, especially in the engineering milieu, is a complex activity. Many different tasks need to be performed well to achieve high quality student learning. Significant learning experiences require specific (and optimal) course design, and inculcation of relevant skills. The more common approach for course design is the 'content-centered' one. A list of topics is decided (using well-established textbook/s), together with time slots and a testing scheme (number of quizzes, tests, etc). Though relatively easy, this methodology pays scant attention to student learning outside of content knowledge. The more time and effort intensive 'learning-centered' approach is more systematic and rewarding. Course design is based on deciding what students can optimally learn in a certain subject, and how to best facilitate this learning. Fink's model of significant learning or integrated course design has three major components: identification of important situational factors; use of these factors to make key decisions about learning goals, feedback and assessment, and teaching/learning activities; and making sure that these crucial components are well integrated and supplement and strengthen each other. This work-in-progress paper presents a strategy to use Fink's significant learning approach in materials science and engineering courses in an undergraduate engineering program. Examples and activities are taken from two core courses of the Mechanical engineering program at our university (Materials science, and Engineering materials). This methodology, targeting significant learning experiences, can also be applied to other engineering and science (and even non-science) courses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number91
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - Jun 22 2020
Event2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jun 22 2020Jun 26 2020


  • Engineering
  • Engineering education
  • Integrated course design
  • Materials science
  • Significant learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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