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Inspiring Future Hydraulic Engineers with Problem-Based Learning

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Capstone Design Courses II

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Hsiao-Wen Wang National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan

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In Taiwan, the importance of the hydraulic engineering field is growing, particularly in terms of recent water supply sustainability issues and the ongoing prevalence of weather-related events and challenges, such as droughts and floods. In order to inspire 21st century students who will serve as professionals in the hydraulic engineering field, problem solving abilities must be emphasized, fostering flexibility and innovative as well as effectiveness, which are necessary for an uncertain and unpredictable future. This study applies project-based learning (PBL) to hydraulic engineering education. PBL were designed for an undergraduate course to emphasize real-world problems while enhancing learning motivation and performance, and fostering the problem-solving skills necessary for innovation and excellence in the learners’ future professional careers as hydraulic engineers. Not only divergent thinking activities, but also convergent thinking strategies (i.e., those which involve evaluating and selecting among generated innovative thoughts according to the guidelines and purposes of the activity) were adopted to better guide students in generating both innovative and effective solutions to real-world hydraulic engineering problems. The study adopted a pretest and posttest quasi-experimental design. Over an 18-week intervention, students in the experimental group completed the above-mentioned intervention, while comparison group worked on projects that did not integrate problem solving activities. Participants’ final reports, which proposed solutions to the real-world issues, such as reservoir sedimentation, were evaluated and scored by an expert panel, including representatives from academic, governmental, and industrial backgrounds. A statistically significant advantage was found for students in the experimental group in terms of academic achievement on the post-test, as well as significantly greater improvement in problem-solving and professional skills. This study explored how different teaching strategies influence students’ problem-solving skills and, at the same time, hydraulic engineering knowledge.

Wang, H. (2016, June), Inspiring Future Hydraulic Engineers with Problem-Based Learning Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25735

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