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A Practical Approach for Problem-Based Learning in Engineering

[+] Author Affiliations
Emily M. Hunt, Pamela Lockwood-Cooke, Paul Fisher

West Texas A&M University, Canyon, TX

Paper No. IMECE2007-42088, pp. 621-627; 7 pages
  • ASME 2007 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 7: Engineering Education and Professional Development
  • Seattle, Washington, USA, November 11–15, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4301-7 | eISBN: 0-7918-3812-9
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME


Problem-based Learning (PBL) is a motivating, problem-centered teaching method with exciting potential in engineering education. PBL can be used in engineering education to bridge the gap between theory and practice in a gradual way. The most common problem encountered when attempting to integrate PBL into the undergraduate engineering classroom is the time requirement to complete a significant, useful problem. Because PBL has such potential in engineering, mathematics, and science education, professors from engineering, mathematics, and physics have joined together to solve small pieces of a large engineering problem concurrently in an effort to reduce the time required to solve a complex problem in any one class. This is a pilot project for a National Science Foundation (NSF) supported Science Talent Expansion Program (STEP) grant entitled Increasing Numbers, Connections, and Retention in Science and Engineering (INCRSE) (NSF 0622442). The students involved are undergraduate mechanical engineering students that are co-enrolled in Engineering Statics, Calculus II, and Engineering Physics I. These classes are linked using PBL to increase both student engagement and success. The problem addresses concepts taught in class, reinforces connections among the courses, and provides real-world applications. Student, faculty, and industry assessment of the problem reveals a mutually beneficial experience that provides a link for students between in-class concepts and real-world application. This method of problem-based learning provides a practical application that can be used in engineering curricula.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME



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