Teaching Mathematical Modelling and Problem Solving - A Cognitive Apprenticeship Approach to Mathematics and Engineering Education
Journal article, 2014

We describe a course in mathematical modelling and problem solving, intended to provide the students with the appropriate skills to deal with real world problems in science and technology. The course is inquiry-based and centered around approximately 30 reasonably realistic, highly varied and challenging problems, which are solved in pairs. The students are supervised in a cognitive apprentice- ship environment, where the teacher uses a range of tech- niques to align student thinking with expert thinking. After taking the course, most students express and demonstrate a fundamental change in their abilities to think mathematical- ly, in their understanding of the nature of mathematics and its role in their future profession. They also consider it as one of the most important courses in their education. We therefore argue that this kind of course, or similar teaching, should be present in the engineering curriculum.

problem solving


mathematical modelling

engineering education

cognitive apprenticeship

inquiry-based learning


Dag Wedelin

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers)

Tom Adawi

Chalmers, Applied Information Technology (Chalmers), Engineering Education Research - EER (Chalmers)

International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy

2192-4880 (ISSN)

Vol. 4 5 49-55

Subject Categories


Computational Mathematics

Areas of Advance



Basic sciences

Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work

More information