Formative feedback and scaffolding for developing complex problem solving and modelling outcomes

Brian Frank*, Natalie Simper, Jake Kaupp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
159 Downloads (Pure)


This paper discusses the use and impact of formative feedback and scaffolding to develop outcomes for complex problem solving in a required first-year course in engineering design and practice at a medium-sized research-intensive Canadian university. In 2010, the course began to use team-based, complex, open-ended contextualised problems to develop problem solving, communications, teamwork, modelling, and professional skills. Since then, formative feedback has been incorporated into: task and process-level feedback on scaffolded tasks in-class, formative assignments, and post-assignment review. Development in complex problem solving and modelling has been assessed through analysis of responses from student surveys, direct criterion-referenced assessment of course outcomes from 2013 to 2015, and an external longitudinal study. The findings suggest that students are improving in outcomes related to complex problem solving over the duration of the course. Most notably, the addition of new feedback and scaffolding coincided with improved student performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-568
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number4
Early online date15 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


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