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The Term (Project) Paper: A Viable Instructional Tool For Undergraduate Engineering & Technological Education

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.540.1 - 4.540.11

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Paper Authors

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Christopher Ibeh

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

Session 2548

The Term (Project) Paper: A Viable Instructional Tool for Undergraduate Engineering and Technological Education Christopher C. Ibeh Pittsburg State University


There is a growing consensus in academia and in the industry about the need for graduates of engineering and technological programs to fortify their technical skills with effective communication skills. The term paper concept at the undergraduate level addresses this need; it has been proven to be a viable instructional medium for the reinforcement, development and acquisition of technical and communication skills. The term paper concept is based on the principles of ideation and implementation, the key elements of creativity and critical thinking. The development of ideas based on the students’ subject area(s) of interest serves as a driving force for implementation of the ideas. Implementation takes the students through the process of literature search for acquisition and development of knowledge base, design of experiment to validate and verify idea(s), performance of experiment for data acquisition, analyses and interpretation of acquired data, and the ultimate report writing and presentation. Report writing teaches the students how to write and is an additional medium for learning the subject material. Presentation introduces and initiates the students to life in the industry, and inculcates in them the ability to effectively convey their ideas to their peers, colleagues and superiors.

I. Introduction

The term paper concept is a non-traditional, innovative approach to teaching and learning at the undergraduate level. It is based on the principles of ideation and implementation, the key elements of creativity and critical thinking. Traditionally, undergraduate education has revolved around a “class lecture” format. The students participate, actively or passively depending on the students’ disposition, in a series of class lectures, and they are periodically tested for their level of retention and understanding of course content. In this scenario, creativity is a very silent component of learning. There is not a conscious effort to acquire or develop creativity. This lack of awareness or consciousness minimizes the need for or role of creativity in engineering and technological education. With the term paper, the concept of creativity is entrenched in the process of ideation and implementation.

The process involved in carrying out the term project inculcates in the students the awareness of the need for creativity, how to develop it and its role in productivity. Productivity is the main- stay of industry; it is the source of employees’ salaries and company’s profit. The adage, “Practice Makes Perfect” comes to mind and is more succinctly put by the motto of the School of Technology at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas, “By Doing Learn”. Exposure of the students to the concept and process involved in the term project facilitates their ability to learn and to be creative. It prepares students for the industry (and for graduate school for those who so

Ibeh, C. (1999, June), The Term (Project) Paper: A Viable Instructional Tool For Undergraduate Engineering & Technological Education Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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