June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.1466.1 - 26.1466.13
Assessment of Teaching and Learning Open-‐Ended Problem Solving Throughout a New Degree Program The concept of ‘Design’ is a significant challenge for faculty to teach and students to learn. At the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), we have created a standard and simple definition along with student learning assessment tools to improve students’ ability and comfort to solve open-‐ended design problems. The Mechanical Engineering (ME) degree program is currently in the process of implementing open-‐ended design problems throughout recently-‐accredited Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate curriculum. Open-‐Ended Design problems are challenging for students when they are confronted with the fact that there is no ‘right numerical answer’ for them to achieve. The uncertainty of no one ‘right’ answer is unnerving to students. Open-‐Ended Design problem-‐solving is a difficult concept for faculty to teach to students and for students to learn and internalize from faculty because solving Open-‐Ended Design problems requires a holistic approach that is not taught in analytic courses. In this study we have developed and refined the curriculum to produce students who are capable of and confident in holistically solving open-‐ended problems in a design context. As a faculty, we are keenly aware of the need to improve the well-‐roundedness of our students so that they are capable of looking at a problem holistically and from a system perspective. We see the engineering design process and Open-‐Ended Problem Solving as vehicles for developing well-‐rounded engineers who are ready to enter the workforce. The ME department at CSM has a unique opportunity to revisit fundamental concepts taught throughout the curriculum. In Fall 2013, the department went through the accreditation process for a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering degree, which was a transition from the previously offered B.S. in General Engineering with a Mechanical specialty. In July 2014, the ME department became ABET accredited under the new degree offerings. The split of the former Engineering Division provided a unique opportunity for the faculty to take a new look at the curriculum and begin to implement significant changes throughout. We have started the process of following our students to be holistic system thinkers who are capable of and confident in tackling difficult Open-‐Ended Problems and Design challenges of the future. To achieve this, we have taken a “baseline snapshot” of the current ME classes in order to have a clear understanding of the current state of our students’ abilities. We have conducted preliminary surveying that strongly indicates our students are largely incapable of tackling Open-‐Ended Problems and that our students do not understand Design. We will implement surveys throughout our undergraduate curriculum to track students’ performance and improvement over time. We will follow students throughout a five year period and analyze their ability to solve Open-‐Ended Problems while making changes to the curriculum, one step at a time.
Blacklock, J., & Dean, J. H. (2015, June), Teaching and Learning Open-Ended Problem Solving Throughout a New Degree Program Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24803
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