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Incorporating Problem Based Learning (Pbl) In A Freshman Engineering Course: Methods For Classifying And Assessing Pbl Projects

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Conference

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Research on the First Year I

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

15.713.1 - 15.713.14

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/16177

Download Count

29

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Paper Authors

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Javarro Russell James Madison University

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JAVARRO RUSSELL is a doctoral student in the Assessment and Measurement program at James Madison University. As a Graduate Assistant for the Center for Assessment and Research Studies, he serves as an assessment consultant to academic programs. In this role, he provides guidance in assessment design and guidance in analyzing assessment results. He also serves as a coordinator of large scale assessments at the university. His research interests are Assessment and Public Policy, Use of Assessment Results, and Validity.

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Olga Pierrakos James Madison University

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OLGA PIERRAKOS is an assistant professor in the new School of Engineering, which welcomed it inaugural class August 2008, at James Madison University. Dr. Pierrakos holds a B.S. in Engineering Science and Mechanics, an M.S. in Engineering Mechanics, and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Tech. Her interests in engineering education research center around recruitment and retention, understanding engineering students through the lens of identity theory, advancing problem based learning
methodologies, assessing student learning, as well as understanding and integrating complex problem solving in undergraduate engineering education. This latter project is funded through her recent NSF CAREER award. Her other research interests lie in cardiovascular fluid mechanics, sustainability research, and K-12 engineering outreach.

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Megan France James Madison University

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MEGAN FRANCE is a doctoral student in the Assessment and Measurement program at James Madison University. As a Graduate Assistant for the Center for Assessment and Research Studies, she serves as an assessment consultant to academic programs and serves as a graduate research assistant on engineering education related research.

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Ronald Kander James Madison University

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Ronald Kander is professor and Director of the School of Engineering at James Madison University where he teaches and does research in the area of polymer processing, manufacturability, and rapid prototyping/tooling technologies. He received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1980, and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 1987.

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Robin Anderson James Madison University

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ROBIN ANDERSON is a professor and practitioner in Center for Assessment and Research Studies where she serves as the Associate Director. Previous to serving at James Madison University, Dr. Anderson worked with Blue Ridge Community College and the Virginia Community College System where she coordinated the System's core competency assessments. Dr. Anderson started the Journal of Research and Practice in Assessment and currently serves as the President of the Virginia Assessment Group.

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Heather Watson James Madison University

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HEATHER WATSON is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering at James Madison University. She holds a Ph.D. from New Mexico State University, an M.S. from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.S. from the University of Detroit in Mechanical Engineering. Her research interests include renewable energy systems, thermal management systems, energy efficiency, and recruitment and retention in engineering education.

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

Incorporating Problem Based Learning (PBL) in a Freshman Engineering Course: Implementing Methods for Classifying and Assessing PBL Projects

Abstract

Problem-based learning (PBL), a powerful student-centered pedagogy, offers a strong framework upon which to build a curriculum that will allow students to learn essential problem solving skills. Although PBL methodologies are highly valued, they are not well integrated throughout the engineering education curriculum. This lack of integration stems from unclear classification of the type of projects that constitutes PBL practice. The lack of integration is further diminished by the deficit of assessment studies used to describe the efficacy of the PBL in assisting students in achieving learning outcomes. With a focus on a PBL-based freshman engineering course, in this paper we present: (1) The novel use of a PBL classification framework grounded on dimensions of structuredness, complexity, and team environment. (2) Assessment strategies for analyzing the alignment between the PBL learning experiences and the intended student learning outcomes. (3) The classification and assessment of a freshman PBL project focused on reverse engineering a hand-held mixer. (4) Suggestions on how PBL projects such as the reverse engineering example can be reshaped to meet a span of learning outcomes for engineering students.

In summary, what we hope to illustrate in this paper is that structure meets function - that is problem structure influences student learning. Novel use of PBL theory on problem classification enables us to capture how the structure of a problem shapes student learning outcomes. The implications of such an effort to utilize a PBL classification framework and assessment methods are that the tools developed herein can be used by engineering programs nationwide, independent of discipline or academic level.

Introduction

As a powerful student-centered pedagogy, problem-based learning (PBL) offers a strong framework upon which to build a curriculum. Some of the benefits of PBL1-2 include: (1) improving students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills, (2) promoting high motivation for students, (3) increasing the ability to integrate and apply engineering skills with fundamentals of math and science, (4) enhancing the acquisition and retention of knowledge, and (5) facilitating collaborative learning.

Yet, although widely used in engineering, particularly during the senior year, PBL practices have not extensively been integrated throughout engineering curricula, and limited studies exist to provide sufficient support for PBL. This lack of integration is the result of poor classification of what constitutes PBL practice, and how such experiences can be integrated throughout the curriculum. Consequently, when used, PBL projects have taken different forms from program to program and course to course. These differences stem from differing philosophies about the use

Russell, J., & Pierrakos, O., & France, M., & Kander, R., & Anderson, R., & Watson, H. (2010, June), Incorporating Problem Based Learning (Pbl) In A Freshman Engineering Course: Methods For Classifying And Assessing Pbl Projects Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16177

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