Approaches to Teaching Modeling
During the 2016 workshop, participants identified the following approaches to introduce modeling to students:
- Ask conceptual questions early on and use real life examples
- Using real life examples, for example exploring an Environmental Crisis at Mono Lake can increase student motivation and interest.
- Explore system behavior before the mathematical underpinnings
- Help students develop an understanding of basic system components and relationships before trying to model them.
- Start with low threshold GUI-based tools or pre-packed environments
- MATLAB SimBiology is one example of a visual environment that instructors can use to get students started with modeling.
- Use pedagogical approaches and best-practices
Examples from workshop participants:Greg Hancock (William & Mary) presented his approach to introducing students to modeling at the 2016 workshop: Introducing Mass Balancing Modeling Using a Controversial Environmental Problem. Hancock focuses on developing clear learning objectives and has the students answer the essential questions to constructing a mass conservation model. Using an environmental issue, water level in Mono Lake, CA, shows students that modeling and MATLAB can help solve real-world problems.
Download the presentation (PowerPoint 30.3MB Oct24 16)
Check out the corresponding teaching activity: Modeling Mono Lake's Water Balance by Phil Resor and Greg Hancock
Greg Hancock's Learning Objectives for Modeling
- Translation from idea to model construction
- Identifying and evaluating model assumptions
- Planning and troubleshooting numerical models
- Calibration and verification of a model
- Using models for prediction
- Presentation of modeling result
Download the presentation (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 3.1MB Oct23 16)
Working groups considered common challenges to teaching modeling in undergraduate science courses. Some commonly cited challenges include:
- How to teach modeling when the math background is absent or weak.
- Getting students to think critically about modeling results (e.g. units, orders of magnitude, common sense intuition)
- Wendy Thomas (University of Washington) describes how she tackled this in her essay: Garbage Out? Verification of Reliable Computations.
- Methods for assessing student knowledge.
- See assessment techniques used by instructors who teach with MATLAB.
- For other examples, see the HPC University Competencies.
- How to assess different teaching methods.
- The Assessment pages from the Pedagogy in Action portal have an overview of assessment tools and approaches.
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