Using MATLAB to Teach Computational and Quantitative Thinking Skills in STEM Courses

Wednesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Beren Auditorium
Poster Session Part of Wednesday Poster Session


Mitchell Bender-Awalt, Carleton College
Lisa Kempler, Kansas State University
Carol Ormand Ph.D., Carleton College
Teaching computational skills and science content in a single course is challenging. Adding to the challenge, many STEM courses incorporate advanced mathematics, unfamiliar hardware, and complex instrumentation. The expectation that students master skills and retain information, let alone apply what they learn in future courses and careers, can be a difficult task for the students in these courses as well as the educators who develop them.

To address the challenges associated with developing students' comfort and skill in computation, MathWorks and SERC collaborated on a series of peer-led faculty workshops. As part of each workshop, faculty contributed teaching activities, resources, and strategies for teaching computation with MATLAB. The workshops enabled participating STEM faculty and undergraduate educators to leverage and reuse each other's tools for integrating computation into courses and curricula. In addition to producing a set of high-quality teaching resources available for reference during and after the workshop, the participants joined a growing community of peers interested in supporting each other in the pursuit of teaching computational thinking.

Participants contributed materials such as teaching activities employing MATLAB code, presentations on teaching approaches, and course curricula. Resources are paired with strategies to balance breadth versus depth with quantitative thinking and computation languages and tools. Topics addressed include approaches to enhancing student success through cooperative learning, building student self-efficacy, and incorporating computation across a curriculum. The resources also showcase MathWorks tools for learning and teaching, such as interactive MATLAB tutorials and autograding software for MATLAB code.

The collections and resources are freely available online. Educators are invited to contribute additional activities and course descriptions that illustrate how they incorporate computation and quantitative skills into their courses using MATLAB. To learn more visit

Presentation Media

Using MATLAB to Teach Computational Skills Poster (Acrobat (PDF) 26.9MB Jul14 18)