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A Learning-centered Educational Paradigm: Case Study on Engineering Technology Students’ Design, Problem-solving, Communication, and Group Skills

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

ET Pedagogy I

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Rustin Webster Purdue University, New Albany

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Dr. Rustin Webster is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology at Purdue University. Prior to joining Purdue, Dr. Webster worked in the Department of Defense field and specialized in mechanical design, research and development, and business development. He studied at Murray State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham where his research was on immersive virtual learning environments for educational training purposes. Furthermore, Dr. Webster has received various professional certifications from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, SOLIDWORKS, the Project Management Institute, and NACE International.

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This case study explores how a learning-centered educational paradigm affects undergraduate engineering technology (ET) students’ engineering design, problem-solving, communication, and group skills. Evidence for the study comes from twenty-three mechanical engineering technology students enrolled in a first-year engineering design and documentation (e.g., technical drawings) course. Part three of the four-part Classroom Activities and Outcomes Survey measured the extent to which the students believed they had made progress in a variety of learning and skill development areas because of the course (i.e., indirect assessment). The end-of-semester survey indicated that the learning-centered paradigm produced positive learning and skill gains in the four general content areas (i.e., factors) of engineering design, problem-solving, communication, and group skills. Additional student feedback from course evaluations provided evidence of positive reactions to the instructor, course, and active learning elements, such as the team project, group discussions, and self-assessments. The results support the general belief that a learning-centered educational paradigm will produce greater learning and skill gains than a teaching-centered paradigm in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines. The techniques used and the outcomes from the course have implications for not only future curriculum development but also ABET accreditation, which requires accredited ET programs to demonstrate that their graduates develop 11 competencies. This case study analyzes four of the 11 competencies and provides educators an active learning resource with classroom instructional materials for a first-year engineering design course.

Webster, R. (2018, June), A Learning-centered Educational Paradigm: Case Study on Engineering Technology Students’ Design, Problem-solving, Communication, and Group Skills Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29691

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