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Enhancing Engineering Students’ Creativity and Generic Thinking Skills through
Non-routine Mathematics Questions
This talk reports on the results of three pilot studies on the impact of the regular use of non-routine mathematics questions, in particular puzzles, paradoxes and sophisms (PPS) as a pedagogical strategy on enhancing engineering students’ creativity and generic thinking skills.
By a puzzle we mean non-standard, non-routine, unstructured question presented in an entertaining way.
Typically a puzzle appears deceptively simple. By a paradox we mean a surprising, unexpected, counter-intuitive statement that looks invalid but in fact is true.
By a sophism we mean intentionally invalid reasoning that looks formally correct, but in fact contains a subtle mistake or flaw.
The intention of using PPS is to engage students' emotions, creativity and curiosity and also enhance their problem-solving skills and lateral thinking “outside the box”. Potential benefits for students from using PPS in teaching and learning are discussed in the talk. Students’ attitudes towards this pedagogical strategy are evaluated via a short questionnaire given to university students taking a second year engineering mathematics course. The theoretical considerations of the study are based on the Puzzle-Based Learning concept developed by Michalewicz & Michalewicz (2008). Some examples of PPS from Klymchuk & Staples (2013) and students’ responses to questionnaires are presented and discussed in the talk.
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