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Implementation Of Problem Based Learning Into Engineering Thermodynamics

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.722.1 - 10.722.17

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Paper Authors

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Bassem Ramadan

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Karim Nasr

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

Session 1526

Implementation of Problem-Based Learning into Engineering Thermodynamics

Karim J. Nasr and Bassem Ramadan Mechanical Engineering Department Kettering University Flint, MI 48504


Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is an instructional pedagogy founded on the promises of knowledge construction by inquiry. Learning occurs by asking and obtaining answers for questions that are open-ended and challenging. This approach presents many challenges to students but capitalizes on having a real-life problem as the starting point. PBL is known for naturally combining classroom learning with real-life applications. This approach places the burden of knowledge acquisition on the students and utilizes the instructor as a facilitator. It is a student-centered approach emphasizing self-confidence and creativity. This paper presents the implementation of PBL curricular materials (modules) in Engineering Thermodynamics that are supported by technology through simulations and target higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning. Undergraduate students go on to future courses with enhanced thinking skills and greater retention of knowledge. Thermodynamics is restructured as modules presenting practical applications first whereas principles are introduced just-in-time and as encountered. Theoretical information is presented to support the understanding of knowledge as students apply inquiry- based learning. These modules are carefully designed to reflect traditional concepts but made more exciting as students discover the need for the laws and principles. The paper documents steps and challenges in implementation and presents formative and summative assessment data for examining the effectiveness of the PBL approach.


Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is teaching/learning approach which promotes critical thinking utilizing real-life problems as the starting point. The practicality and relevance of the problems serve as the motivation for solving them utilizing students as authentic investigators and the instructor as a facilitator. Uncovering fundamental principles and concepts occurs just in time as students plan, formulate, and solve the problem. Students are not left wondering if what they are studying has any use, but rather challenged by the excitement and relevancy of solving real-life problems. More than motivation exclusively, a problem-based approach helps develop independence in students, along with promoting creativity, critical thinking, and life-long learning. Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Ramadan, B., & Nasr, K. (2005, June), Implementation Of Problem Based Learning Into Engineering Thermodynamics Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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