An analysis of recipe-based instruction in an introductory fluid mechanics laboratory

Blake Everett Johnson, Jason W. Morphew

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Undergraduate mechanics laboratory classes have frequently been taught with a primary goal of demonstrating principles successfully through experimentation and a secondary goal of teaching proper experimental techniques, among others. Historically, this set of priorities has motivated laboratory courses to provide students with prescribed experimental methods, i.e. a "recipe" to follow. Because mechanics principles are already taught in the associated lecture portion of our mechanics classes, demonstration of them in the laboratory may be considered redundant. Research has demonstrated that labs which encourage active learning and inquiry promote the development of higher order skills and may lead to better preparation for future learning. This paper describes an intervention where lab sections were randomly assigned to either receive a recipe or to follow their own laboratory procedures. Results indicate that students who were required to utilize their own laboratory procedures outperformed students who received a recipe on their lab reports. Educational implications for these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 26 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 29 2016


  • Fluid mechanics
  • Inquiry-based instruction
  • Laboratory course

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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