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Engineering Engineering Education


Incorporating a Problem Solving Methodology into your course ... so that students must implement a problem solving methodology ... Problem Solving ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Engineering Engineering Education

Engineering Engineering Education
  • A Catalyst for Change

Incorporating a Problem Solving Methodology into
your course
Possible Scenario
  • You have decided to try PBL
  • You make up a great problem
  • You assigned it to the student teams
  • Due Date Two weeks

What Happens Next?
  • Take 4 minutes with your group to determine what
    might go wrong after you assign the problem

Things that may happen
  • The students are confused...
  • They dont know how to get started...
  • They are floundering/rebelling.
  • Dont get going until the day before due date

What can we do about it
  • Take 4 minutes with your group and develop 1-2
    strategies to overcome the problem of getting

What can we do about it
  • Structure Problems so that students must
    implement a problem solving methodology
  • Embed methodology implicitly in the assignment,
    with due dates

Outcomes for this session
  • Youll be able to
  • Recognize common problems that can occur with PBL
  • Describe a problem solving methodology
  • Design a problem that incorporates a problem
    solving methodology

Session Overview
  • Overview of Problem Solving Method (PSM)
  • WHY might you use a PSM?
  • WHAT is a problem solving methodology?
  • HOW might you incorporate problem solving into
    your course?
  • WHAT IF you want to develop materials to teach
    problem solving in your courses beyond this

Overview of Problem Solving Method?
  • A problem solving methodology is simply a
    framework or pathway for approaching a problem
    and developing a solution as well as reflecting
    and evaluating the solution

Why teach problem solving
  1. Gives a framework for problem solvers to work
    through a difficult, ill-defined problem
  2. Helps to develop problem solving skills
  3. Helps them to get started or get unstuck
  4. Also provides a vehicle to require reflection or
    evaluation of the solution
  5. ABET Graduates must demonstrate and ability to
    identify, formulate and solve engineering

What does the data reveal?
  • Data for engineering students showed no
    significant change in confidence in their ability
    to solve problems (despite having solved over
    2500 problems during their 4 years) Woods
  • Students receiving a seminar/instruction on
    problem solving did show increased confidence in
    ability to solve problems and were less anxious
    about problems

Incorporating PSM Woods Method
We recommend Woods for several reasons 1.
Evidence/Research based 2. Intuitive and
reasonable 3. Developed for engineers
Overview of Woods Method
Woods Method 1. Engage/Motivation (sometimes
step 0) 2. Define 3. Explore 4. Plan 5.
Do it 6. Check 7. Evaluate/reflect
Steps in Woods Problem Solving Method
1. Engage/Motivation -I can do it -I want to
do it
Steps in Woods Problem Solving Method
2. Define -define what the problem
states -determine the given information -dete
rmine constraints and -criterion for judging
final product
Steps in Woods Problem Solving Method
3. Explore -Determine the real objective of
the problem - Sketch the problem (if
appropriate) -Make reasonable
assumptions -Guestimate the answer
Steps in Woods Problem Solving Method
4. Plan -develop a plan to solve the
problem -map out sub-problems -select
appropriate theory, principles,
approach -determine information need to gather
Steps in Woods Problem Solving Method
5. Do it -implement the plan
Steps in Woods Problem Solving Method
6. Check -check the solution (units,
Steps in Woods Problem Solving Method
7. Evaluate/reflect -is it reasonable, does it
make sense? -were the assumptions
appropriate? -how does it compare to
guestimate? -question built into the
problem is it socially/ethically acceptable?
Incorporating Woods Method in course activities
1. Explain Woods to Students 2. Require Woods
approach for different problems a. Laboratory
problems b. Homework problems c. Projects 3.
Provide Practice, Feedback/Evaluation
Incorporating Woods Method in course activities
Example CHEG300 Homework 1
Feedback from the classroom-My Thoughts
1. Effect of using PSM and PBL on
learning -worked well -gave them a reason to
get started -gave them a framework to get
unstuck and think through the steps 2. Did it
improve their problem solving skills? -93
agreed that the course was more effective than
traditional course in developing ability to solve
problems that are vaguely defined or have more
than one acceptable solution.
Student Comments - The Good
I learned a lot more by doing the problems
rather than sitting in a class hearing how to do
the problems and then putting the pre-packaged
solutions into a homework problem Walking
away from this class, I have a very strong
understanding of heat transfer I loved
working with my team on problems I really
enjoyed the set up of this class I have
learned more relevant material about chemical
engineering this class than any other I have
Student Comments - The Bad
There were times when we could have used more
direction There were times when the course
load seemed too much I was frustrated from
time to time with the amount of direction we got
to begin each problem set, but only because it
was uncomfortable, not because it was bad
Student Comments - The Ugly
Prince didnt teach us anything! I had to
learn everything on my own.
Student Comments - The Good
Ive never before worked under this type of
teaching style! I really enjoyed working through
problems with group members. I feel I will
remember more material because I had to figure
out how to use most of it
  • Problem solving is an essential skill for
  • There is evidence to suggest that traditional
    engineering programs do not effectively develop
    problem solving skills
  • Using a methodology has advantages as a means to
    provide guidance
  • Reported methods are (for the most part) similar
  • We recommend Woods for many reasons

Summary Continued
  • Key to making it work is
  • developing good problems!
  • providing the framework
  • practice
  • evaluation and feedback

Activity - Incorporating Woods
  • Engage, Explore, and Plan
  • Using the problem you have developed for a
    course, take some time and structure the problem
    so that you could incorporate a PSM as part of
    the assignment.
  • Or, if you think it isnt right for your class,
    continue your work on developing good problems

  1. Woods, Donald (1995) Problem-based Learning
    How to gain the most from PBL. Available on
    website http//
  2. Wankat, P.C. and F.S. Oreovicz. (1993) Teaching
    Engineering. Available on website

  1. Good link to many resources on PBL
  2. More info on PBL - links, example problems etc..
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