Researching How You Teach Holistic Modeling (RHYTHM)

PI Kelsey Rodgers

"Models are a critical part of the analysis and design of engineered systems. The purpose of multiple types of models (physical, mathematical, computational, and financial) is to provide a simplified representation of reality that mimics the features of the engineered system, and that predicts the behavior of the system. This project, a collaboration between Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, San Jose State University, and the University of Louisville, aims to improve engineering students' modeling competence. The project plans to achieve this goal by transforming first-year engineering courses to teach modeling as an engineering tool. The project will change existing course materials, pedagogy, and assessment methods across the three institutions. Each institution will implement its own specific strategy to teach mathematical, physical, computational, and financial modeling, thus providing three different approaches. By comparing student's modeling abilities across the institutions and approaches, the project aims to identify the most impactful approaches for teaching multiple modeling in introductory undergraduate engineering courses.

The project is guided by a "holistic modeling perspective" theoretical framework, that builds on the successful "Models and Modeling Perspective" and "Computational Adaptive Expertise" frameworks. The objectives of the project are to: (1) implement, test, and refine holistic modeling environments for institutions that have flexibility in changing curriculum and for instructors that have different degrees of interest in changing their course(s); (2) implement, test, and refine methods to assess students' modeling abilities; and (3) evaluate and present the results of modeling abilities attained by students at three different universities. A unified language and discussion around modeling will be adopted in all revised courses. An assessment tool to measure students' modeling competence will be developed and implemented at each university. This work builds upon existing research in the development of more easily adaptable and adoptable modeling pedagogies and modeling languages. The following broad research question guides the research: How do students' definitional knowledge, ability to apply, and ability to create models change based on different degrees of modeling integration in the classroom?

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria."

Research Dates

10/01/2018 to 09/30/2021


  • Lisa Davids
    Engineering Fundamentals
    M.S., B.S., Florida State University
  • Matthew Alan Verleger
    Engineering Fundamentals
    Ph.D., M.S., B.S., Purdue University-Main Campus

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