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Quantitative And Qualitative Assessment Of Using Pbl In A Mechanical Measurements Class

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.963.1 - 7.963.10



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Paper Authors

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Sudhir Mehta

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

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Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment of Using PBL in a Mechanical Measurements Class Sudhir Mehta North Dakota State University


McKeachie and Gibbs, in their tenth edition of Teaching Tips, say, “Problem-based Learning (PBL) is one of the most important developments in contemporary higher education.” This paper gives a brief introduction to PBL and describes a PBL module that was developed, implemented, and assessed in a Mechanical Measurements class. The assessment results indicate that the PBL method significantly improves important skills such as analyzing and solving open - ended, real-world problems; finding, evaluating, and using appropriate learning resources; working cooperatively in teams; and communicating effectively, verbally and in writing. Our study, like many other studies, also indicates that there was no gain in students’ performance on standard tests and exams, and more research is needed. However, it is important to note that students’ performance on the standard tests and exams did not decline either. Based on the above results, we are planning to increase the number of PBL exercises in the measurements course with the support from the NSF and industry.


The Boyer Commission’s report from the Carnegie Foundation, “Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for American’s Research Universities” (Boyer, 1998), provides an academic bill of rights for students. It includes (1) Providing opportunities to learn through inquiry rather than simple transmission of knowledge, (2) Training in the skills necessary for oral and written communication, and (3) Preparing students carefully and comprehensively for whatever may lie beyond graduation.

Several other reports (NRC, 1996, 2000; NSF, 1996; Kuwana, 1997) indicate that there is a need for change in undergraduate education. The educators calling for change bemoan the lack of relevancy in many traditional courses and recommend eliminating the “plug–and–chug” cookbook approach to education. In a traditional or content-based approach, the emphasis is on covering as much material as possible, and that emphasis often creates difficulty for instructors. The huge quantity of material also makes it impossible for students to develop deeper understanding of the subject matter.

A driving force behind this change is the realization that successful employment and citizenship at the present time requires different knowledge and skills than in the past (NRC, 1996, 1999). Hence, in addition to instructors’ more traditional role as providers of discipline-specific knowledge, they are being urged to adopt teaching strategies that help students to develop competencies identified as necessary for success: · To analyze and solve open-ended, real-world problems,

"Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education"

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Mehta, S. (2002, June), Quantitative And Qualitative Assessment Of Using Pbl In A Mechanical Measurements Class Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10637

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