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Traditional engineering instruction is deductive, beginning with theories and progressing to the applications of those theories. Alternative teaching approaches are more inductive. Topics are introduced by presenting specific observations, case studies or problems, and theories are taught or the students are helped to discover them only after the need to know them has been established. This study reviews several of the most commonly used inductive teaching methods, including inquiry learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning, case-based teaching, discovery learning, and just-in time teaching. The paper defines each method, highlights commonalities and specific differences, and reviews research on the effectiveness of the methods. While the strength of the evidence varies from one method to another, inductive methods are consistently found to be at least equal to, and in general more effective than, traditional deductive methods for achieving a broad range of learning outcomes.
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