Scaffolding and Fading Within and Across a Six-Semester CDIO Design Sequence

Scaffolding and Fading Within and Across a Six-Semester CDIO Design Sequence

C. Putnam, J. O’Donnell, N. Bertozzi (2010).  Scaffolding and Fading Within and Across a Six-Semester CDIO Design Sequence. 21.


This paper will present one part of the experiences and lessons learned during the implementation of an integrated six-semester CDIO design sequence in the new four-year aeronautical engineering and mechanical engineering programs at Daniel Webster College. In the second and third courses of the sequence techniques of scaffolding and fading have been used successfully to increase student interest, and learning in the technical as well as non-technical material.

Scaffolding refers to the learning supports and aids put in place to allow students to more easily come to grips with new course material that would otherwise be too complex to readily understand. Fading refers to the gradual removal of the scaffolds over time once they are no longer needed.

The paper will examine the application of scaffolding and fading to technical topics within the second and third courses of the design sequence as well as to the teaching of ethics in the final three courses in the sequence. Also addressed is how these techniques can be applied across multiple courses. The results have been a dramatic increase in interest among the engineering students for the technical material, and better comprehension and results with the non-technical material.

The authors will be happy to make available syllabi, assignments, parts lists, and other course materials.


Authors (New): 
Craig Putnam
James O’Donnell
Nicholas Bertozzi
Daniel Webster College, USA
Undergraduate engineering education
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