Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.1415.1 - 9.1415.12
Strategies for Creating Web-based Engineering Case Studies Donald R. Falkenburg, Diane Schuch Miller Wayne State University
Linking academic learning with real-world experiences motivates students and significantly impacts depth of learning. The Greenfield Coalition is developing and deploying case studies to support its programs in manufacturing engineering and technology. This paper describes the Greenfield case methodology, and presents a four-step design process used to author an engineering case.
Most engineering problems are not like the problems at the end of a textbook chapter. They imbed often-conflicting technical needs and issues. The engineer must be able to assess a situation, pose a problem, develop a solution and effect change. Yet, aside from a capstone experience at the end of the curriculum, few students are prepared to apply learning beyond the way it is covered in the lecture or presented in the textbook. They are uncomfortable solving problems that are not well structured and require the integration of multiple concepts to craft a solution. They have little experience with either under-constrained or over-constrained problems. Unfortunately, this traditional approach to teaching and learning in engineering does not effectively encourage knowledge and skills transfer to other contexts. As a result, students are not exposed to, or required to use higher levels of thinking for many years while attending college, even though engineering problems almost always require this approach . The linked issues of compartmentalized learning and our inability to bridge the educational experience to real world engineering problems are major problems with current engineering curricula.
The Value of Case Studies
Case studies have revolutionized teaching within both the business and medical communities. The case methodology is a framework to embed learning in an environment that is as close to the real world as possible. It challenges learners to explore resources, make assumptions, and construct solutions. Case studies are also ideal for illustrating complex concepts, especially common in engineering. Horton  suggests the use of case studies as an excellent way for learners to practice judgment skills necessary in real life situations that are not as simple as textbook problems. As instructional strategies are concerned, engaging critical thinking skills through case studies is among a recommended set of activities .
Case studies can also be used to introduce students to the complex interactions among technology, business, and ethics. The Laboratory for Innovative Technology in Engineering Education (LITEE) at Auburn University has produced a number of case studies. One of these describes a turbine-generator unit in a power plant vibrating heavily and shaking the building.
Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education
Schuch Miller, D., & Falkenburg, D. (2004, June), Web Enabled Case Studies: Enhancing Student Learning Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13723
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