Asee peer logo

Problem Based Learning And Interdisciplinary Instruction

Download Paper |


2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.806.1 - 6.806.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Lynn Mack

author page

James Wood

Download Paper |

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

Session 1648

Problem-Based Learning and Interdisciplinary Instruction

James C. Wood, Ph.D., Lynn G. Mack Tri-County Technical College/Piedmont Technical College


This paper describes the development and implementation of a problem-based learning approach for interdisciplinary instruction in introductory courses for engineering technology majors. Required general education courses in mathematics, physics, and communication have been integrated with introductory engineering technology courses. This project was undertaken to improve the retention of students in engineering technology curricula and meet the challenges of producing engineering technicians for the 21st century.

The first step in creating an integrated curriculum was forming interdisciplinary faculty teams to identify and validate integrated competencies. Technical college faculty from all 16 South Carolina technical colleges participated in this validation process. As a next step, design teams comprised of interdisciplinary faculty and industry representatives developed the workplace scenarios or problems. SC Advanced Technological Education industry-based problems provide a mechanism for integrating subjects and an important new context for student learning. Industry focus groups were used to validate the technical accuracy and relevance of the scenarios’ application to the workplace and work of technicians.

Interdisciplinary faculty teams now provide instruction and coach student teams as they learn how to use a problem-based learning process to construct knowledge needed to arrive at scenario solutions. The paper will not only present details of the development and implementation of this problem-based learning approach but also share lessons learned, student outcomes, and how this approach fits with the TAC-ABET Criteria.

I. Introduction

A strikingly significant ramification of the ongoing struggle to remain competitive in the world market is a dramatic shift in responsibilities and expectations of the American technical workforce. New technologies and workplace processes are requiring a move from the traditional manual industrial worker to the expanded role of an engineering technician, who works with his/her hands and applies theoretical knowledge. This redefined technician role in the manufacturing environment requires immediate changes be made in two-year college engineering technology programs.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Mack, L., & Wood, J. (2001, June), Problem Based Learning And Interdisciplinary Instruction Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9678

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015