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Application of Engineering Taxonomy for Assessing Problem-Based Learning in Underrepresented Groups

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Assessment of Student Work

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Leanne Petry Central State University

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Dr. Leanne Petry is an Assistant Professor in the College of Science and Engineering at Central State University. Her expertise is in analytical and materials characterization techniques, including microscopy, spectroscopy, chromatography, and electrochemistry. Her research interests include oxidation-reduction reactions at the surface of electrodes for sensor applications, corrosion mechanisms of materials, as well as their electrochemical degradation. She has incorporated problem-based learning into her lectures, laboratories, and outreach activities to engage students and the community in the STEM education process.

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Morris M. Girgis Central State University

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Morris Girgis is a professor at Central State University. He teaches undergraduate courses in manufacturing engineering. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Hannover
University, Germany. His current research in engineering education focuses on developing and implementing new educational tools and approaches to enhance teaching, learning and assessment at the course and curriculum levels.

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Problem based active learning is an effective way to engage undergraduate STEM students and enhance their critical thinking skills, especially in minority learners. Using a three-tiered engineering taxonomy for cognitive learning, a semester long multidisciplinary project was assessed as part of an upper level Instrumental Analysis course. The Problem Based Learning (PBL) experience focused on materials degradation and was designed to give STEM majors an open ended opportunity for hands-on, student driven discovery by experimenting with various analytical techniques to solve a real world problem in the field of corrosion. The materials were artificially degraded so that the effects of exposure time and service environment impacted the corrosion properties of the sample. The PBL project was structured to assist undergraduate students in learning how materials degrade with time, appreciating how environment can influence degradation, as well as identifying alternative career paths for the purpose of employment or pursuit of graduate programs such as in the field of corrosion or failure analysis. The project setup required the creation of a scenario in which the student was called upon by the court system to provide expert testimony in support of a mock case related to the degradation and in service failure of a manufactured material. The overarching question for the student to answer for the mock court and mock jury was why the material degraded and eventually failed. The degraded material provided the sample for analysis and characterization. Individual student problem solving required tier one prerequisite fundamental knowledge in STEM disciplines in order to identify a strategic plan for root cause analysis of a failed material. Tier two application of this knowledge enabled systematic characterization of the failed substance to be conducted. Lastly, advanced knowledge and analytical skills completed the three tier scaffolding necessary to guide the student working on the PBL project. The student’s final written report and expert testimony presented to the mock court provided evidence based data to support their conclusions and a means to assess conceptual understanding in this PBL scenario. Student reflection and instructor feedback in addition to the three tiered framework rubric facilitated assessment of the student cognitive learning process. Additionally, it was observed for a seven contact hour a week course that students were engaged in the project between 10-12 hours/week gaining more practical, hands-on experience in engineering materials and their methods of deterioration. As a result of this experiential learning, the students produced better quality work as demonstrated through the oral presentation and final written report.

Petry, L., & Girgis, M. M. (2017, June), Application of Engineering Taxonomy for Assessing Problem-Based Learning in Underrepresented Groups Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27596

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