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A Project Oriented, Team Based Learning Approach

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

OMCED Topics

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.93.1 - 14.93.8



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Paper Authors

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Edgar An Florida Atlantic University

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Manhar Dhanak Florida Atlantic University

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

A Project-Oriented, Team-Based Learning Approach Edgar An, Manhar Dhanak Ocean Engineering, Florida Atlantic University

Abstract – This paper presents our outreach efforts in the Department of Ocean Engineering at Florida Atlantic University. The main theme of the outreach effort is “project-oriented, team-based” learning philosophy, which goes beyond the typical “cookie-cutter hands-on” ideas in that there is an overall goal for learning to take place. This is drastically different the traditional “tool-based” learning where the students have to learn all the tools first before they can solve a particular problem. By promoting project-oriented, team-based education, students can appreciate better why they are learning what they are learning, how they can work together as a team, and apply their skills to solving interesting and relevant problems. Over the past four pasts, we have hosted a Model Submarine Design Workshop for high-school students in 2004, and a teacher training workshop in 2007. In addition, we have been offering a yearly dual-enrollment summer class for high school students since 2005. The main goals of these outreach effort are to stimulate high school students’ interests in pursuing science and engineering as their fields of study and careers, and to enhance the research experiences for the in-service high school teachers in science and technology areas so they can bring the knowledge and experiences back into their classrooms.

Keywords: Project-based learning, K-16, Education Methods, Innovative Classroom Practice.

1. MOTIVATION Our outreach effort addresses the inadequacy of high school students in math and science literacy in the United States. According to [3], U.S. high school seniors ranked below their counterparts in 17 other countries in math and science literacy. In physics, U.S. high school seniors scored last among 16 countries tested. Based on [1], [2], our high schoolers remained outperformed in math and science when compared to their international counterparts. Another alarming finding is that while more students are enrolling in colleges and receiving degrees, there are fewer degrees awarded (5% decline) in engineering and engineering technologies (between 1989-90 and 2003-04).

The literacy problem is further exacerbated with a severe shortage of qualified science teachers. According to [4], the enrollment in public high schools is expected to increase by 4% (between 2000 and 2008), more than 25% of teachers are at least 50 years old and the median age is 44, and a stronger push for class-size reduction. 37% of high school math teachers and 31% of science teachers lack qualifications in their fields. The situation is succinctly described by Judith Ramaley, who is the NSF Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources: “There is too little funding, too many under performing students to reach, too little interest in science and too few teachers able to develop their professional skills, to name a few”.

2. OUTREACH ACTIVITIES Over the past four years, we have organized a number of outreach efforts specifically for high school students. This section provides a summary of each of the individual activities.

2.1 1st Model Submarine Design & Testing Workshop (2004)

This was our first attempt made in addressing students’ math and science literacy. The principal investigator conducted the 1st Model Submarine Design & Testing Workshop during May 5-9 of 2004 at the SeaTech Campus in the Department of Ocean Engineering at Florida Atlantic University. In the 2004 workshop, students learned how to design, build and test model mechanical submarines. A total of 23 competitive high

2009 ASEE Southeast Section Conference

An, E., & Dhanak, M. (2009, June), A Project Oriented, Team Based Learning Approach Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5101

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