June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.1180.1 - 22.1180.19
Motivating Factors in Problem-Based Learning: A Student Perspective on the Role of the FacilitatorResearchers are increasingly seeking to understand undergraduates’ experiences in engineeringto better prepare future graduates and to support retention and career persistence. Although anumber of pedagogical approaches have been suggested to meet these objectives, few studieshave examined specific pedagogical approaches through the lens of relevant motivationaltheories to explore effects on students’ experiences in and beliefs about engineering. Problem-based learning (PBL) is a pedagogical approach that has been identified as promoting learningoutcomes consistent with ABET criteria, though the motivational impacts of this approach areless understood. Because problem-based approaches are expanding from use in traditionalcapstone design courses to cornerstone design courses and design across the curriculum courses,it is particularly important to understand the impact such approaches have on students’ beliefsabout engineering and their intended career plans.To help address this gap, we are conducting a three-year study using motivation theory to betterunderstand how two critical elements of the PBL model, team facilitation and project definition,better support retention and persistence for first-year students. In this paper, we focus on findingsassociated with facilitation from the first phase of the study. The overall study employs a mixedmethods design (observations, interviews, and surveys) to compare students across two settings.At State U1, students select a specific engineering department (biomedical) before entering theuniversity and participate in a well-established PBL-based course. At State U2, students enter ageneral engineering program that uses a project-based approach to integrate design projects intothe first-year curriculum. In this paper, we report the outcomes from interviews with PBL teammembers from U1 and design team members from U2 to address the research question: How dofirst-year engineering students in two different types of design approaches (PBL and traditionaldesign) perceive the role of facilitators and how does this perception influence studentmotivation?We conducted semi-structured interviews (30-60 minutes) with ten men and nine women fromU1 and four men and six women from U2 at the end of their first year. Audio recordings weretranscribed and then analyzed using MAXQDA coding software. We first coded interviewsindividually before looking across all interviews for themes and patterns. We developed codesinductively through the data and based on literature suggestions.Our findings show clear differences as well as similarities across the two programs. As anexample finding, participants at both sites saw the facilitator as the grading authority. Despitethe PBL approach having a stronger focus on the learning process and mastery of skills, studentsacross both settings were extremely concerned with grades as a measure of performance andability in engineering and they held facilitators accountable. Students became frustrated whenthey perceived facilitators as using invisible, inflexible, or inappropriate grading practices. Ourpaper will include additional findings and recommendations for practitioners.
Matusovich, H. M., & Jones, B. D., & Paretti, M. C., & Moore, J. P., & Hunter, D. N. (2011, June), Problem-Based Learning: A Student Perspective on the Role of the Facilitator Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18696
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