June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Educational Research and Methods
23.874.1 - 23.874.25
Long-term Impacts of Project-Based Learning in Science and EngineeringAbstractProject-based learning (PBL), in many forms and under other names, now has a significantpresence in K-12 education, higher education in general, and engineering education in particular.Many studies have focused on the impact of PBL on student engagement, student retention, andstudent learning during and immediately after a course or program. This paper will focus on thelong-term impact of PBL, especially on graduates’ perceptions of the connection between PBLand their own professional and personal development.The participants in the study were science and engineering graduates from a university featuringa project-based curriculum. All of the participants had completed significant project work, bothin the major and as part of a general education program, and graduated between 1974 and 2011.The study began with an ideation exercise in which a stratified random sample of alumni wassurveyed to help identify the most significant, from their point of view, components of theirundergraduate program. The exercise informed the development of a survey that included 39Likert scale questions asking alumni about impacts of project work in three main areas:professional skills (e.g., problem solving, collaboration, communication, leadership); worldviews (e.g., connections between technology and society, global issues); and personal impacts(e.g., development of personal character, enrichment of life in ways not related to academics,achievement of work/life balance). The survey was distributed to a random sample of more than10,000 graduates, with a response rate of just over 25%.This paper will provide a review of the main results of the survey, along with some analysis ofhow difference in graduation year, major, and type of project experience (on-campus or off-campus with an external sponsor) are related to the long-term impacts. For example, whilealumni reported strong satisfaction with the technical preparation for careers and graduateschool, the survey shows that significant project work, especially project work outside theclassroom, had many impacts more traditionally ascribed to liberal education than to engineeringand science curricula.
Heinricher, A. C., & Quinn, P., & Vaz, R. F., & Rissmiller, K. J. (2013, June), Long-term Impacts of Project-Based Learning in Science and Engineering Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19888
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