Asee peer logo

A Project Based Active And Cooperative Learning Approach To Improving Manufacturing Engineering Education

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Innovations in Manufacturing Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.89.1 - 14.89.13



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Ning Fang Utah State University

visit author page

Ning Fang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology Education in the College of Engineering at Utah State University. His areas of interest include computer-assisted instructional technology, curricular reform in engineering education, the modeling and optimization of manufacturing processes, and lean product design. He earned his PhD, MS, and BS degrees in Mechanical Engineering and is the author of more than 60 technical papers published in refereed international journals and conference proceedings. He is a Senior Member of the Society for Manufacturing Engineering and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is also a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and a member of the American Educational Research Association.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Project-Based Active and Cooperative Learning Approach to Improving Manufacturing Engineering Education


This paper describes a project-based active and cooperative learning (PB-ACL) approach that was developed to simultaneously address four industry-identified competency gaps that need to be closed between industry’s manufacturing workforce needs and current educational programs. The four competency gaps include 1) a specific manufacturing process, 2) business knowledge, 3) oral and written communication, and 4) teamwork. In the PB-ACL approach, students form various project teams with three or four students on each team. Each student is assigned different responsibilities. Each team works on a semester-long manufacturing project that includes three well-integrated tasks. A representative example of student projects is given to show how the PB-ACL approach works. A Likert-type and open-ended questionnaire was developed to assess student learning outcomes. Assessment results showed that more than 80% of the surveyed students gained positive experiences from the PB-ACL approach.


As competition in the global economy becomes increasingly fierce, industries set higher and higher expectations and requirements for engineering students 1-4. In close collaboration with numerous industrial partners and universities and colleges in North America, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation has reported 15 competency gaps 5 that need to be closed between industry’s manufacturing workforce needs and current educational programs. These 15 competency gaps are grouped into four categories including:

≠ A specific manufacturing process: machining, welding, casting, forging, etc. ≠ Integration systems skills: business knowledge, manufacturing systems, supply chain management, international perspective, and product/process design ≠ Technical skills: engineering fundamentals, materials, manufacturing process control, quality, and product/process design (co-listed in the “Integration system skills” category) ≠ Professional skills: oral & written communication, teamwork, project management, problem solving, and personal attributes

Addressing these competency gaps requires effective instructional strategies, such as active learning and cooperative learning. Active learning is generally defined as any instructional strategy that actively engages students in the learning process 6-9. It is built upon an experimentally-proven cognitive learning theory 10, which states that if students become active participants instead of passive listeners during the course of knowledge acquisition, they can recall information and learn course materials better. Cooperative learning is generally defined as any instructional strategy in which small heterogeneous groups of students work together to achieve a common learning goal 11. Simultaneous interaction and equal participation among students occur in cooperative learning. Active and cooperative learning have been widely adopted in many engineering and science disciplines, such as manufacturing 12,13, engineering design 14, and computer science 15,16. Active and cooperative learning also take a wide variety

Fang, N. (2009, June), A Project Based Active And Cooperative Learning Approach To Improving Manufacturing Engineering Education Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4663

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015