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Problem Based Teaching And Learning In An Introductory Level Lean Manufacturing Systems Course

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Best Practices in IE Education

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.981.1 - 14.981.14



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Paper Authors

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Alister McLeod Purdue University

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April Savoy Purdue University

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

Problem-Based Teaching and Learning in an Introductory Level Lean Manufacturing Systems Course


Problem based learning (PBL) is a widely used technique in the development of technical curriculum delivery (Putnam, 2001)18. In the design and development of an introductory level lean manufacturing course taught at Purdue University, a PBL approach was utilized. The approach allowed the instructor to expose students to a manufacturing strategy that has been adopted by manufacturers world-wide. Immersing students in the context of lean manufacturing strategies required a combination of manufacturing facility tours and simulation type exercises in lab. This made the class more challenging, motivating, and enjoyable, while allowing students to acquire the basic knowledge and skills needed by industry. Class evaluations, collected over four semesters, reveal that PBL is a strong approach to teaching an introductory level lean manufacturing course.


Manufacturers in the US are forced to increase the pace at which they adopt and integrate new technologies into their operations due to competitive pressures that force them to become more efficient. In such an environment, a skilled workforce is necessary for the continued prosperity and viability of these manufacturers. According to the council on competitiveness, the next generation of innovators needs to have skills that make them: 1) better at using scientific inquiry techniques, 2) better at the use and development of technical designs and 3) equipped for changes in the nature of their jobs (Council on Competitiveness, 2004)5. The problems that future engineers and technologists face render obsolete the sole use of traditional teaching methods. Traditional teaching methods can be defined as a formal way of presenting content by an instructor (Vella, 1992)23. Utilizing this method of teaching is oftentimes a one-way process in which learners are not stimulated to question or verify that they have learned the material covered (McIntosh, 1996)14. Simply being able to regurgitate knowledge does not create a practitioner that is competent in undertaking the concept in the real world (Barrows & Tamblyn, 1980)3.To promote conceptual understanding, teaching and learning should be an intellectually challenging experience in which learners and teachers interact simultaneously (Price & Mitchell, 1993)17.

Inactively listening to explanations of a complex subject does not develop a learner’s understanding of the topic. True understanding is achieved only when prior knowledge and thinking are actively expanded by the learner through dedicated learning (Ross, 2006)19. Furthermore, if learners are immersed in the environment in which they will use the concepts being taught, retaining this knowledge is more likely (Albanese & Mitchell, 1993)1. Problem based learning (PBL) is used by professional schools world-wide as a means to develop problem solving, critical thinking, and self directed learning skills (Putnam, 2001)18. In essence, PBL enables learners to solve problems by being able to identify, analyze, synthesize, and present

McLeod, A., & Savoy, A. (2009, June), Problem Based Teaching And Learning In An Introductory Level Lean Manufacturing Systems Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5210

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