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Multidisciplinary Efforts Addressing Problem-Based Learning in a Graduate Course

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Edifying Engineering Education through Multidisciplinary Efforts

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Hsiao-Wen Wang National Cheng Kung University

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Hsiao-Wen Wang is an Associate Professor with the Department of Hydraulic and Ocean Engineering and the director of International Relations Division, Office of International Affairs in NCKU. Her fields of expertise include river mechanics and restoration, sediment transport, ecohydraulics, water environment planning and assessment, and geomorphology. Her recent research interests include innovative learning and teaching design in engineering education.

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Lowland Flooding and Management is not a distinct discipline in itself, but rather involves the understanding of spatial planning, vulnerability, risk, and resilience and adaptation to climate change. This study documented a 17-week multidisciplinary course taught in a graduate program in a university in Taiwan. This course emphasized systemic understanding that should underlie lowland flooding management and seek to address issues from a holistic and multidisciplinary effort, rather than traditional classroom-based structure-oriented strategies. As the course balanced advance reading, lecture, fieldwork, and exercises, students came play with a working knowledge based on international and multidisciplinary experiences and an understanding of the theory and tools for further applications. Through learning processes and experience sharing, feasible strategies of sustainable management of lowland area were derived for the two projects addressing the real-world problems, i.e. Underpass Flooding project and Floating Garden project. While the Underpass Flooding project had the students work separately in groups for same topics and goals emphasizing the planning stage, Floating Garden project had students work on different themes in groups with emphasis on real implementation considering constraints of budget and time. Students addressed feedbacks from instructors and experts from academia, industry, and government at the different stages and improved their work. The study adopted a pre-test, mid-test and post-test experimental design and explained the research instruments, methods of analyses, and administration time. Many potential possibilities in the topic of lowland management were also found. Participants’ final reports, which proposed solutions to the real-world issues, are taken into policy making by the city government. This study demonstrates how a multidisciplinary and creativity enhanced PBL can improve students’ learning motivation, professional ability, creative thinking and problem-solving, as compared to regular or traditional teaching approaches, even resulting in higher academic achievement. By adopting a real-life problem and embracing the social context which is necessary for learning1-3, particularly in terms of improving creative problem solving, our approach was effective in providing the type of nurturing environment, providing background knowledge and motivation for students to engage in deeper thinking.4 The results of the study can also be referred to other engineering domains, adopting real-life problems from other areas.

Wang, H. (2017, June), Multidisciplinary Efforts Addressing Problem-Based Learning in a Graduate Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28695

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