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Redesigning BME Instructional Lab Curricula Using Problem-based Learning and Backward Design

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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

BME Laboratory and Project Experiences

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1105.1 - 25.1105.8



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Paper Authors


Barbara Burks Fasse Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology

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Barbara Burks Fasse is a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at Georgia Tech. Fasse studies the efficacy and value of student-centered learning initiatives, specifically problem-based and project-based learning, in classrooms, instructional labs, and undergraduate research experiences. She joined the BME faculty in 2007 following ten years in Georgia Tech's College of Computing, where she was a member of the NSF-funded "Learning By Design" problem-based learning curriculum development and research project. She also conducted an NSF-funded ethnographic study of learning in a problem-driven, project-based bio-robotics research lab at Georgia Tech. In addition to her duties in BME, she is a member of the interdisciplinary research team conducting the Science Learning: Integrating Design, Engineering, and Robotics (SLIDER) project.

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Essy Behravesh Georgia Institute of Technology

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Essy Behravesh is the Director of Instructional Laboratories in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in bioengineering from Rice University.

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Redesigning BME Instructional Lab Curricula using Problem-Based Learning and Backward DesignDuring the Spring semester of 2007, the XXX Department of Biomedical Engineering atWWW Tech and YYY University conducted a comparison study of an alternativepedagogical approach to instructional labs. Using Problem-Based Learning andbackward design (McTigue and Thomas, 2003) as conceptual frameworks, the SystemsPhysiology instructional lab coursework was reverse engineered to reflect relevant skills,practices, and experiences valued by the biomedical engineering professional community.In the first iteration, students were divided into two conditions: problem-based andtraditional. Comparison data indicated that students from the problem-based section hada better understanding of the course content than their colleagues in the traditional labsection but were less confident that they had “learned what they were supposed to learn”(Bbbb, Ffff, et al, 2007; Nnnn, Bbbb, et al, 2010). Outcomes from the pilot test in 2007were used to inform subsequent iterations of the two Systems Physiology instructionallab courses over the ensuing semesters leading to what they are today. Additionally, thisencouraged the department to designate the two instructional lab courses as independentcoursework, cleaving them from their former dependence on a cell biology lecture courseunder which the content was theoretically subsumed and temporally concurrent. Thispresentation reports the history of the Systems Physiology instructional labimplementation from its inception in 2007 to the present and describes the pedagogicalinnovation in its current form.The research and pedagogical practices reported in this paper use case study design. Thetriangulated ethnographic data sources consist of surveys, formal and informal interviews,field-notes, and student-generated artifacts.Bbbb E., Ffff B.B., Mmmm, M.C., Nnnn W.C., and Bnnn,B.D. (2007) A Comparative Study of Traditional and Problem-Based LearningInstructional Methods in a Lab Setting. Biomedical Engineering Society, LosAngeles, CA, Sept. 26-29, 2007.McTigue, J, and Thomas, R.S. (2003) Backward Design for Forward Action. EducationalLeadership, Feb 2003, pp. 52-55.Nnnn, W.C., Bbbb, E, Nsss, N.J., and Ffff, B.B. (2010). Design Principles for Problem-Driven Learning Laboratories in Biomedical Engineering Education. Annals ofBiomedical Engineering, Vol. 38, No. 10, pp. 3257-3267.

Fasse, B. B., & Behravesh, E. (2012, June), Redesigning BME Instructional Lab Curricula Using Problem-based Learning and Backward Design Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21862

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