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Lessons Learned From Incorporating Problem Based Learning And Lego System In Engineering Measurements Laboratory

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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

10.892.1 - 10.892.14



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Paper Authors

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Zhifeng Kou

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Sudhir Mehta

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

Session 1526

Lessons Learned from Incorporating Problem-Based Learning and Lego System in Engineering Measurements Laboratory

Zhifeng Kou, Sudhir Mehta

North Dakota State University


As one of the most important developments in contemporary higher education, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is widely used in most medical schools and is being proliferated in several other disciplines. A limited number of engineering educators have reported using PBL methods in their classes. However no literature in the field reports how to implement PBL, to what extent PBL should be implemented, the possible pitfalls in the implementation of PBL, and the design of problems using Lego System in an Engineering Measurements course.

This paper gives a brief introduction to PBL and describes assessment comparisons among three different types of instructional methods. The three methods are: 1) fully traditional content- based learning, 2) a combination of lecture-type instruction and PBL instruction, and 3) full PBL instructional methodology with a partial use of Lego RCX System. The assessment results indicated that, without compromising students’ exam performance, the PBL method (when used partially or fully) significantly improved important skills in analyzing and solving open-ended, real-world problems, working cooperatively in teams, and communicating effectively, verbally and in writing.

The Lego RCX System demonstrated its superiority as an ideal platform in designing real-life problems in measurement and control, in controlling the problem difficulties, and in inspiring students’ interest in class. However, we cannot take PBL as a panacea to cure all of the current engineering educational problems. Based on input from industrial representatives and experienced educators, student background, and student feedback in classes, we have provided suggestions on how to and how much one should implement PBL.

The major suggestions include balancing our engineering curriculum regarding the courses taught in traditional vs. PBL method, developing a balance within a PBL course, balancing the depth vs. breadth of class topics, fine tuning the process of transition from a traditional lecture- type class format to a PBL format by considering the students’ specific background and personal characteristics, controlling the group size for effective communication and ease of scheduling, and employing the Cooperative Learning (CL) method to assure all group members are accountable for doing their share of the work and mastering all of the material to be learned. The implementation and assessment methods in this paper could serve as a prototype for other engineering courses using PBL. More problems using Lego RCX could be designed to form a PBL problem database for future reference in engineering measurement and control courses on the basis of our initial results.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright. 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Kou, Z., & Mehta, S. (2005, June), Lessons Learned From Incorporating Problem Based Learning And Lego System In Engineering Measurements Laboratory Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15177

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