Problem Based Learning and its application to Engineering

Problem Based Learning and its application to Engineering

Problem Based Learning and its application to Engineering Professor Norman Wood Manchester School of Engineering April 2003 Background MSE formed in 1994 from 4 departments Mechanical Engineering Electrical Engineering Aeronautical Engineering Civil Engineering

Background Developments since 1997 Establishment of MCCCE with UMIST Amalgamation of elements of Electrical Engineering with Computer Science MSE has become primarily Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Background The financial status of the School is heavily dependent upon student numbers and RAE Grade. The University of Manchester has made a commitment to be a research led institution.

This stimulated a thorough review of our undergraduate provision in addition to other activities focused upon research. Key Issues The needs of Industry were being reiterated to us as being: Group working skills Communication skills Problem solving skills Independent learning Time management skills Key Issues

The skill base of the student intake had changed and they exhibited: A lack of numeracy A lack of literacy An inability to solve previously unseen problems As a result, they were increasingly poorly equipped for a traditional undergraduate teaching programme Key Issues The challenge to MSE was to improve our research activity standing while also dealing with the critical issue of

improving our teaching quality. A number of staff had been at Manchester for many years even changes to traditional teaching methods were poorly received! Outcome A decision was taken to consider radical change to our teaching profile to enable a step change in our circumstances and more successfully meet the strategic vision for the MSE. Amongst a number of options, Problem Based Learning appeared a viable

alternative. What is PBL? Problem Based Learning is intended to develop a student led learning environment that results in deep learning. It attempts to break the listen, remember, assess, forget cycle of education. What is PBL? PBL is dependent upon the establishment of a strong group working and support culture.

Students are instructed how to run meetings, take minutes, chair a meeting, etc. Staff act as Facilitators to support the working process and environment, and thereby, the acquisition of knowledge. What is PBL? Within Engineering, PBL was seen to offer an opportunity for skill development although it has also been successfully applied to Masters level units in which the acquisition of knowledge was paramount. It is used extensively by the Medical

and Dentistry Schools What is PBL? Our implementation uses a 7 step process. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Understand the problem Recall knowledge applicable to the problem

Formulate questions that may enable the problem to be solved Gather knowledge and generate understanding Check to see if problem can be solved and if not, return to step 3 Demonstrate a solution to the problem Reflect upon the experience What is PBL? Problem Based Learning is what professional engineers and researchers do in their everyday life! What is PBL?

PBL is not PROJECT based learning. Problem based learning requires the acquisition, synthesis and application of new knowledge while PROJECT based learning is usually just the application of knowledge previously acquired. Outcome MSE made a commitment to consider the development of a new suite of undergraduate programmes that used PBL as the primary teaching and learning strategy.

Considerations Resources Staff loading Staff training Impact on student learning experience Methods of assessment Professional Accreditation New UG Programmes Overall view of UG programme Acquisition of Knowledge Acquisition of skills

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year by Year Themes Year 1: Learning to Learn Year 2: Design as the Integrator Year 3: Professional Engineer Year 4: Research and specialisation

These should be consistent with and be driven by the Aims and Objectives. Programme flexibility Year 1 is common to all Aero/Mech programmes. Year 2 splits into separate Aerospace and Mechanical streams. Year 3 and 4 are specific to each of the five main degree programmes. BEng students undertake an identifiably different third year. Year 1 Timetable

Semester Week 4 Electric Motor 5 Design with Pro-Engineer 7

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Programming Rollercoaster Electronics

Assessment Statics and Dynamics Space Frame Thermofluids 3 Mathematics IT

Professional Engineer 2 Design Rocket Structured Learning Units Mechatronics 1 6

1 PBL activity Year 1 Timetable Semester Week 7 2 8

9 10 11 12 13,14 15,16 Powerful Bubbles IR Link Formula student Powerplant

Assessment Statics and Dynamics 6 Thermofluids 5 Renewable Energy Mathematics

4 Professional Engineer 3 Hovercraft Design 2 Structured Learning Units

Mechatronics 1 PBL activity Year 1 Assessment Matrix PBL activities Rollercoaster, Hovercraft etc.. Units of Assessment Group skills Personal skills Statics and Dynamics

Thermofluids Etc.. Year 1: Structured Learning Each is a 3 hour session consisting of: A short introductory lecture A series of individual example sheets A further short lecture A Group problem to be handed in at the end of the session They are not related to the particular PBL problem but they reinforce material and the

PBL process. Year 2 Assessment Matrix Design Challenges Units of Assessment Group skills Personal skills Aircraft Structures Performance Etc.. Wing Design,

Flight Control Systems etc.. Year 2 Timetable Year 2 consists of four, six-week long design challenges plus examinations. Each design challenge is a selfcontained, coordinated activity of PBL and structured learning sessions. In parallel, students undertake more traditional learning in four design, management and business units. Year 3 and 4 These two years appear similar to our previous programmes.

Staff are permitted to utilise the most appropriate teaching method for the aims and objectives of the units. Staff are encouraged to build upon the skills developed within the students during the first two years of the programme. Year 1 Implementation All PBL activities follow a single template Four 1 hour facilitated sessions (Mon, Thur, Mon, Thur) An individual formative worksheet and test (Thursdays) A Group assessment

An assessment of personal development Six structured learning sessions An academic as a PBL manager/expert PBL Template Week 1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday

Introduction to Problem am First Facilitated session Expert Session Design Workshop classes

Second Facilitated session Friday Group Working Formative worksheet Group

Working pm Maths Thursday Mechatronics Interim Group Assess. PBL Template

Week 2 am Monday Third Facilitated session Group Working pm Workshop

classes Tuesday Expert Session Wednesday Thermofluids Thursday Final

Facilitated session Friday Group Working Individual Test Statics and Dynamics

Prof. Engineer Group Assess. Sample Problem The No Fear roller-coaster in the Moss-Side Fantasy-Land and Cyber-City was recently opened by Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham. It is the largest roller-coaster in Europe. During the first day of operation, an incident occurred where one of the cars was damaged. Fortunately, the car remained on the track and although the occupants in the fully laden car (all members of the University Sumo Wrestling team) were badly shaken, there were no serious injuries.

The front axle of the car concerned was found to be bent, but had not broken. No other damage was visible. Police have ruled out the possibility of vandalism. Manufacturing defects have also been eliminated as a possible cause. The ride has been shut down pending an investigation into the accident. The owners are anxious to determine the cause of the accident so that their biggest attraction is up and running as soon as possible. Questions that should arise after the first facilitated session What caused the failure? What is the relationship between the velocity and normal acceleration of the car and the loads and resulting stress acting on the axle? How do you determine the loads acting on the car?

What effect do the material properties and dimensions of the axle have on the critical stress values? How does the stress vary along the length of the axle? What is the profile of the track? (INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED ONCE REQUESTED) What are the mass/dimensions of the car/axles/wheels and its occupants? (INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED ONCE REQUESTED) What materials are available for the axle and how much to they cost? (INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED ONCE REQUESTED) Learning Outcomes Kinematics Determination of equation governing velocity /

acceleration variation (and hence critical case) for given track profile. No air-resistance or friction (using conservation of energy and derivation of equations of motion) Including air-resistance Including friction Kinetics Determination of loads from calculated acceleration using Free Body Diagram - maximum loads Learning Outcomes Statics Concepts of yield, yield stress and permanent deformation.

Construction of Bending moment / Shear force diagram of axle Determination of second moment of area of circular crosssection solid and hollow Calculation of bending stress for circular shaft determination of maximum stress solid and hollow crosssections Selection of the axle material based upon yield stress and cost. Learning Outcomes Matlab Calculation of numerical functions Plotting of x-y graphs Numerical solution of first order differential equations

Mathematics Analytical solution of first order differential equations Design Determine axle dimensions to meet the load case whist minimising cost. Formative Test Each Group is provided with an example worksheet on the first Thursday. The Group should work together to advance their knowledge. On the second Thursday individuals take a short test that is based upon the material in

the formative worksheet. The mark from this counts towards the EW1120 Personal Studies unit. Group Assessment In each PBL, the Group is assessed on its overall performance generally at the end of week 1 and at the end of week 2. The form of the assessment is varied (report, presentation, web-site etc.) Individuals are given a mark that uses an electronic peer moderation system that preserves the group mark.

Personal Development Subsequent to each PBL, each student submits a brief report to their Personal Tutor and makes a short oral presentation to the tutor group regarding their individual development. The mark from this counts towards EW1130 Personal Development unit. Facilitation A good facilitator is a guide on the side not the sage on the stage! A good facilitator must allow a group to deviate from the planned path.

A good facilitator will eventually say very little during a session. Facilitation takes no preparation and does not require specialist knowledge. Group Allocation Groups are allocated pseudo-randomly at the start of the year. Students are not allowed to change groups. Groups are restructured at the start of the second semester. Groups are typically of 8 students.

Key Issues Getting the problem statement right. It is important to expend significant effort in this including test runs on existing students, experts and sixth formers. Problems can be reused year after year. Key Issues Staff Training Staff will be placed in an unfamiliar environment in which they will feel insecure. They may not be in control and they may not have expert knowledge. This does not affect

the students provided the staff attitude is correct! Overall, staff loading does not appear to increase. Key Issues Resources Rooms Library books Internet access Rapid feedback of progress

Communication pathways (SSLC etc.) Key Issues Student Welfare The group environment means that students cant go missing for extended periods of time. One in eight missing is easier to detect than one in 120! Some students will find the environment too pressured and opt for the quiet life sleeping in lectures. Key Issues Reaction time

Given the degree of difference between this and any other engineering teaching programme, the School must be able to react quickly if things are not going according to plan. Key Issues Student Support and Guidance The students will need to be told that they are learning! Many of them believe that learning is gauged by the height of a pile of notes! Students generally gain in confidence after the first few weeks of the year.

Key Issues Leadership Strong leadership is an absolute essential for this to work. Given an opportunity to deviate from change, most academics will all too readily do so! The half way solution will not be as effective. Overall Outcomes No detrimental impact on admissions. Progression from year 1 has improved from 75% to 86% in the first year of PBL.

Provisional Accreditation has been obtained from both the IMechE and the RAeSoc. Overall Outcomes The second version of the first year has been an improvement in terms of its consistency and organisation. The new second year builds upon processes now established in the first year. It has taken a lot of effort on behalf of a small number of staff who have piloted the programme through internal and external review.

Overall Outcomes It has become clear that no other implementation of PBL would have suited our requirements. We have had to develop our own version based on our aims and objectives. Ownership of the programme by the staff is absolutely vital. Questions?

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