Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Because national policy to renew Engineer education in Taiwan has been launched by the Department of Taiwan, a three-year pioneer curriculum transformation in System Engineering (SE) was implemented in a top research university. The goal of this transformation was to shift the primary focus of SE program from “technology elaboration” to “application innovation” in respond to the requests of the stakeholders. This study adopts the in-depth case study to describe a 3-round evolution process in transforming the Dynamic Control Systems course (DCS) from a standard college engineering course toward capstone. The goal of this case study is to illustrate how initial plan of capstone transformation containing only partial perspective has been challenged. Through various self-improvement mechanisms, challenges have been overcome and the capstone gradually evolved toward comprehension and optimization from 2013 to 2016.
In year 2013, a cross-discipline pedagogical team (CDPed team) was formed to help the transformation and the first decision was to expend the scope of the DSC course to involve the verification and application of system engineering. The course was then renamed as “Dynamic System Analysis and Implementation (DSSI).” The curriculum structure of DSSI followed 4 standard steps of system engineering design, i.e., mathematical modeling, controller design, system simulation and system implementation and the fourth components “system implementation” was particularly emphasized.
Starting from 2014, the project-based learning was therefore adopted as the major pedagogical component in DSSI. Two team projects of practical dynamic systems were designed for the practice of the standard procedure in planning –actuation real-world control systems and for the shaping of 4C engineering literacy: 1. Complex integration of SE fundamental knowledge, 2. Collaborative simulation and experimenting, 3. Communication to the public orally and visually, as well as 4. Creative thinking. The design of project 3 (swing-up and balance control of Rotary Inverted Pendulum in free style) was expected to facilitate the opportunity to generate innovative ideas and products. Students’ products were then rated by a panel of experts to examine their level of SE creativity. Unfortunately, the levels of product creativity were about medium. Most students reported that they adopted a play-it-safe strategy in conducting the final project. The CDPed team thus decided to introduce a simple technique, SCAMPER, to help develop creative thinking in the following round 2 transformation of year 2015.
SCAMPER , containing an acronym for seven subskills: (S) substitute, (C) combine, (A) adapt, (M) modify, (P) put to another use, (E) eliminate and (R) reverse, is known to enhance the likelihood of creative thinking. It is very difficult to break the thinking barriers because rigid mindset could limit a person’s brain broadband. Following SCAMPER flow, individuals could intentionally broaden their viewpoint without being caught up in their mindset. Because Project 3 is where we encourage students to show creativity, in Round 2 of 2015 the CDPed team tailored SCAMPER to fit the requirement of Mathematical Modeling and Controller design (1st and 2nd steps of SE design) because the initial idea generation period is the key time point for common ideas to turn into creativity. The order of SCAMPER is modified (S-C-E-R-M-A-P) according to the ease for use in DSSI projects and a worksheet was developed to support team work. In addition, the self-improvement meeting of CDPed team decided to offer Teaching Assistant (TA) Training workshops. The TA training focused on 2 aspects: (1) the principles underlying capstone course and (2) creative thinking skills.
In round 2 of 2015, 5 repeated investigations were held across a semester to examine students’ learning experiences through the instructional process of PBL capstone. The 5 time-points were selected during (1) base knowledge introduction, (2) SCAMPER introduction, (3) Midterm, (4) Projects 1-2, and (5) Final presentation of Project 3. Because PBL encourages learners to construct their own knowledge in making learning meaningful, it is expected students to perceive 1 to 5 processes in DSSI as from teacher-centered to student-centered. The investigation of students’ self reports did confirm our expectation.
With three rounds of curriculum improvement, the final structure of capstone course of Dynamic System Simulation and Implementation (DSSI) was completed. In Round 3, in addition to the previous decisions, the flipped classroom/learning was introduced to further support students’ autonomy by delivering online distance education. It rearranges learning activities, such as allowing assignments to be worked on during class. In sum, the underlying the framework included the interactive dimensions of (1) capstone curriculum structure and its goal, (2) the design characteristics of capstone project, (3) goals about student cognitive development, (4) alternative instructional strategies and (5) the training of teaching assistants (TAs). In addition, (6) the evaluation method and outcomes used to guide self-improvement was also reported.
Chou, K., & Chen, Y., & Lin, S. S. J., & Cheng, C. (2018, June), From Technology Elaboration Toward Application Innovation: An Instructional Transformation in a Project-oriented Capstone Course of Dynamic Control Systems Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30545
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