Students should be exposed to all methods of learning so they'll know how to adapt in the real world.

Elif Eda Miskioğlu

Professor Elif Miskioğlu's research career began with genetically manipulating bacteria to act as "biosensors" to detect chemicals that may affect hormone pathways. But her expertise does not stop there.

"I'm fascinated by engineering education," she explains. "Particularly, how do students evolve from engineering novices to engineering experts, and how can we better facilitate that process?"

According to Miskioğlu, becoming an engineering expert involves more than computational accuracy. True proficiency means also developing engineering intuition, a gut-level knowing that comes with experience. "If results are incorrect, students need to recognize it so they can check their work and revise," she says. "Some students develop this skill early, some don't develop it at all. I'd like to change that."

Design is almost synonymous with engineering, and how students develop confidence in their own ability to design is another question Miskioğlu studies closely. "Many higher-level engineering courses are team based," she says, "but some students seem better able to develop self-efficacy through working alone. My colleagues and I are figuring out whether incorporating both approaches can facilitate greater self-efficacy gains."

Preparation for real-world problem-solving is a key part of Miskioğlu's research. She believes this can be better achieved by providing students with a wide exposure to different "representations," or modes of looking at information.

"Students should be exposed to all methods of learning so they'll know how to adapt in the real world. There are multiple ways of thinking and engaging with the world, and more varied experience may foster greater problem-solving, critical thinking and communication skills. I'm developing ways for faculty to track how they engage students and diversify their approaches. These methods can apply across disciplines, which makes a liberal arts environment an especially exciting place to be."

No matter what courses she's teaching, Miskioğlu insists that her students consider their responsibilities as engineers and their potential impact on global issues. "I want them to see the bigger picture," she says.

Posted Oct. 6, 2017

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