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Problem-based Learning in a Pre-service Technology and Engineering Education Course

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Examining Problem-based Learning

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1065.1 - 25.1065.13



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Paper Authors


Nicholas Massa Springfield Technical Community College

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Nicholas Massa is a Full Professor in the Laser Electro-Optics Technology Department at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, Mass. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Western New England College and a Ph.D. in educational leadership/adult learning from the University of Connecticut. Massa is currently Co-principal Investigator on the NSF-ATE STEM PBL Project of the New England Board of Higher Education.

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Michele Dischino Central Connecticut State University

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Judith Franzosa Donnelly Three Rivers Community-Technical College


Fenna D. Hanes New Engalnd Board of Higher Education

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Fenna Hanes is Senior Director for Professional and Resource Development at the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE). Since 1995, Hanes has directed six science/technology curriculum and professional development projects funded by the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Currently, Hanes is the Principal Investigator for the NSF/ATE-funded project STEM PBL (problem-based learning). The project is meeting the need for STEM instructional materials and has developed a series of problem-based multimedia challenges (case studies) for use in college and high school classrooms. The topics include sustainable technology areas such as wind and solar power, sustainable agriculture, storm water remediation, lighting, and green chemistry. The project has also developed two professional development courses, one for pre-service and one for in-service teachers. In 2009, Hanes was selected as the SPIE (International Society for Optical and Photonics) Educator Award winner. Hanes holds a B.S. in liberal arts/business administration from Northeastern University and a M.S.P.A. in public affairs from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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James A. DeLaura Central Connecticut State University

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James DeLaura is professor and Chair of the Technology and Engineering Education Department at CCSU.

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Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Problem-Based Learning Professional Development Model for STEM EducationProblem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional approach whereby students learn problem-solving, critical thinking and teamwork skills by collaboratively solving complex real-worldproblems. Research shows that PBL improves student knowledge and retention, motivation,problem-solving skills, and the ability to skillfully apply knowledge in new situations. Usedextensively in medical schools since the 1970s, PBL is emerging as an exciting alternative totraditional lecture-based methods in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics(STEM) education. One of the challenges limiting the use PBL in STEM education, however, isthe lack of instructional resources and professional development available to STEM educators atboth the high school and college level. To address this problem, the STEM-PBL project of theNew England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), funded by the National Science FoundationAdvanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) program, has created a comprehensive series ofmultimedia PBL “Challenges” focused on sustainable technologies and a professionaldevelopment program in PBL methodology for in-service and pre-service STEM educators.In this paper, we present the results of a pilot study conducted to evaluate the efficacy of theSTEM PBL project in developing the capacity of in-service and pre-service STEM educators toincorporate PBL instruction in their classrooms. During the 2010-2011 academic year, 30 in-service STEM educators from secondary and post secondary institutions across the U.S.participated in an online professional development program focused on PBL methodology andclassroom implementation of the STEM PBL Challenges. In addition, during the spring 2011semester, 16 pre-service Technology and Engineering Education (TEE) teachers enrolled in aneast coast university teacher education program participated in a new PBL methods course basedon the STEM-PBL Challenges. Qualitative and quantitative methods were applied to assess theimpact of the STEM PBL project on teachers’ knowledge, skills and attitudes related to theadaptation of PBL instruction in their classrooms.

Massa, N., & Dischino, M., & Donnelly, J. F., & Hanes, F. D., & DeLaura, J. A. (2012, June), Problem-based Learning in a Pre-service Technology and Engineering Education Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21822

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