June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Two Year College Division
22.397.1 - 22.397.19
Creating Real-World Problem-Based Learning Challenges in Sustainable Technologies to Increase the STEM PipelineAs a new generation of American students move through the educational pipeline, they are beingchallenged as never before with important issues such as global climate change, sustainability,and all things “green.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines sustainability as“meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meettheir own needs.” The implications of sustainability are far-reaching and pervasive. They affectall aspects of life including how we generate energy, provide clean drinking water and growfood, manufacture goods and provide services, heat and cool our homes, and get to work andschool each day.With all of the attention given by policy makers and the media about the importance ofsustainable technologies, student enrollment in science, technology, engineering and math(STEM) fields in the U.S. continues to lag behind other industrialized nations. If the U.S. is tomaintain its global economic and technological competitiveness, the educational system mustproduce more graduates interested and prepared to enter STEM related careers. To this end,educators must provide students with learning experiences that engage and motivate them bytapping into their natural creativity, imagination, and desire to solve the big problems of theworld such as environmental sustainability, while at the same time develop the problem-solvingand critical thinking skills needed for lifelong learning.One instructional method capable of providing this type of learning experience is problem-basedlearning (PBL). PBL is an instructional approach that challenges students to “learn how to learn”through collaborative real-world problem solving. Research shows that compared withtraditional lecture-based instruction, PBL improves student motivation, critical thinking andproblem-solving skills, learning retention and the ability to adapt learning to new and novelsituations—critical skills for the 21st century workplace.In this paper, we report on the progress of the Problem-Based Learning for SustainableTechnologies: Increasing the STEM Pipeline (STEM PBL) project of the New England Board ofHigher Education. This three-year National Science Foundation Advanced TechnologicalEducation (NSF-ATE) project is aimed at increasing student interest and preparedness inpursuing STEM-related careers, and providing STEM educators across the U.S. with the trainingand resources needed to introduce PBL in their classrooms. Working closely with industry,government, and university collaborators breaking new ground in sustainable technologies, theSTEM PBL project team has created a comprehensive series of online multimedia PBLinstructional materials referred to as “STEM PBL Challenges.” The STEM PBL Challenges aredesigned to engage secondary and post-secondary students in authentic real-world problem-solving focused on contemporary issues of sustainability including solar and wind energy, cleanwater, sustainable agriculture, and consumer product hazards. A detailed discussion of theproblems, the collaborating partners, the STEM PBL Challenge development process, and thepre- and in-service teacher training program is presented.
Massa, N., & Dischino, M., & Donnelly, J. F., & Hanes, F. D. (2011, June), Creating Real-World Problem-Based Learning Challenges in Sustainable Technologies to Increase the STEM Pipeline Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/17678
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