June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Educational Research and Methods
15.1082.1 - 15.1082.12
Special Session: Assessing Students’ Learning Outcomes during a Complex and Real-world Problem-based Service Learning (PBSL) Project in a Sophomore Engineering Design Course
Authentic and real-world problem solving is an integral part of the engineering profession. Yet, current research indicates that engineering education is primarily focused on well-defined and well-structured problems, which do not provide students the real-world relevance, context, nor experience in solving the types of problems required in the engineering profession. The addition of problem-based learning (PBL) methodologies to the engineering curriculum provides engineering programs the opportunity to introduce students to a variety of real-world projects. Just as important to these PBL methodologies, though, is the type of projects to which students are exposed. Numerous studies have shown the importance and impacts (including learning, retention, motivation, etc.) of integrating service learning projects into engineering education. Herein, we present the assessed learning outcomes of integrating a problem-based service learning (PBSL) experience in a sophomore design course. The implications of such an effort in utilizing PBSL methodologies and learning outcomes assessment are that the strategies and tools developed herein can be used by engineering programs nationwide, independent of discipline or academic level.
Keywords – problem based learning, service learning, engineering design, learning outcomes.
There has been much criticism about undergraduate engineering education not focused on real- world and authentic problem solving. In fact, the type of authentic and real-world problems that engineers often face in the workplace are ill-structured and complex; yet, such problems are not integrated into engineering curricula and coursework. Rather, engineering courses mainly focus on problems that are well-structured with known, correct solutions often acquired from preferred solution methods and an implicit methodical approach1-2. Particularly because engineering practice is more suffused with complex and ill-structured problems1, it is imperative that engineering students begin the real-world practice of problem solving during their undergraduate education.
Problem-based learning (PBL), a powerful student-centered pedagogy, offers a strong framework upon which to build a curriculum that will allow our students to learn essential and globally competitive problem solving skills3-4. Some of the benefits of PBL include: (1) improving students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills, (2) promoting high motivation for students, (3) increasing the ability to integrate and apply engineering skills with fundamentals of math and science, (4) enhancing the acquisition and retention of knowledge, and (5) facilitating collaborative learning. Yet, although widely used in engineering, particularly during the senior year, PBL practices have not extensively been integrated throughout engineering curricula, and limited studies exist to provide sufficient support for PBL. There are two main pitfalls of PBL practice: (1) a poor classification of what constitutes PBL practice and how such
Pierrakos, O., & Pappas, E. (2010, June), Special Session: Assessing Students’ Learning Outcomes During A Complex And Real World Problem Based Service Learning (Pbsl) Project In A Sophomore Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16209
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