Challenges of Project Based Learning (PBL) in Engineering Education

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102). This special issue belongs to the section "Higher Education".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2024 | Viewed by 7617

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Architecture, Engineering and Design, Universidad Europea de Madrid, 28670 Villaviciosa de Odón, Spain
Interests: engineering education; educational robotics; project based learning

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Architecture, Engineering and Design, Universidad Europea de Madrid, 28670 Villaviciosa de Odón, Spain
Interests: engineering education; project-based learning; sustainability

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past decades, Project-Based Learning (PBL) has proved to be a highly successful method for training engineers as accrediting agencies ask universities to prepare future professionals for a globalized world. As such, traditional teacher-centered educational approaches must be changed towards preparing students to face real engineering projects and using PBL is an effective strategy.

PBL is perfect for developing competencies such as lifelong learning, teamwork, communication, critical thinking and creativity, but several questions will arise from its implementation:

How are engineers’ educators expected to help their students to develop the needed competencies for their future profession? What is the impact of PBL on engineering students’ learning and competences? Are the teachers prepared to encourage them to work using this method? Is coordination needed for an efficient implementation? What elements in PBL are essential for an efficient implementation? Are learning outcomes aligned with the curriculum design when using PBL? How can we face the problems that appear in PBL due to teamworking? What happens during the different stages of the project activity and what has each member done? How can PBL be assessed for each individual member of a team?

This Special Issue calls for papers to address these questions.

Topics of interest include:

  1. Past, present and future of PBL in engineering education
  2. Approaches to implement PBL in engineering education
  3. Virtual or hybrid PBL in engineering education
  4. PBL for professional development
  5. Challenges and problems in PBL course design or implementation
  6. Methods, tools and applications for assessing teamwork using PBL
  7. PBL and engineering student engagement
  8. Diversity and Inclusion through PBL in engineering education
  9. Sustainability in engineering education using PBL
  10. Cross-disciplinary PBL

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Dr. María-José Terrón-López
Dr. Paloma J. Velasco-Quintana
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • engineering education
  • project-based learning (PBL) in engineering education
  • online PBL
  • diversity and inclusion through PBL
  • designing PBL in engineering
  • teamwork in PBL
  • challenges in PBL engineering education

Published Papers (5 papers)

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12 pages, 1157 KiB  
Article
Using Problem-Based Learning and Gamification as a Catalyst for Student Engagement in Data-Driven Engineering Education: A Report
by Dino Čubela, Alexander Rossner and Pascal Neis
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(12), 1223; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13121223 - 09 Dec 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1271
Abstract
This report explores the integration of problem-based learning, gamification, and data-driven approaches in engineering education. With a focus on the course “GeoGovernment 1”, this framework aimed to engage students actively and foster self-directed learning. By tackling real-world issues like automated teller machine (ATM) [...] Read more.
This report explores the integration of problem-based learning, gamification, and data-driven approaches in engineering education. With a focus on the course “GeoGovernment 1”, this framework aimed to engage students actively and foster self-directed learning. By tackling real-world issues like automated teller machine (ATM) burglaries in Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany), students gained experience in data analyses and geoinformatics technology. This approach not only motivated students but also enhanced their prospects in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, equipping them with skills necessary for their future careers. The course structure emphasized student-centered learning, with educators playing facilitative roles to provide guidance. In summary, the combination of problem-based learning, gamification, and data-driven approaches offers a promising solution to address the challenges faced by STEM education, providing an engaging and effective learning experience for students, and ultimately preparing them for the demands of the ever-evolving professional landscape. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges of Project Based Learning (PBL) in Engineering Education)
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13 pages, 713 KiB  
Article
An Analysis of Problem-Based Learning vs. Traditional Teaching among Students in Azerbaijan
by Ulkar Sattarova, Jelena Arsenijevic and Wim Groot
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(12), 1167; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13121167 - 22 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1375
Abstract
Objective: Our goal was to analyze the effects of implementing problem-based learning (PBL) at the Azerbaijan University of Architecture and Construction. Method: We compared students that attended lectures and tutorials using PBL and students that attended lectures and tutorials using traditional teaching methods. [...] Read more.
Objective: Our goal was to analyze the effects of implementing problem-based learning (PBL) at the Azerbaijan University of Architecture and Construction. Method: We compared students that attended lectures and tutorials using PBL and students that attended lectures and tutorials using traditional teaching methods. In total, 737 students (intervention group) participated in PBL and 2201 in non-PBL (Control group A and Control group B) at the university. Descriptive statistics and a statistical Kruskal–Wallis test were used to analyze the data and determine whether groups could be compared. We used propensity score matching to make groups comparable and analyzed the differences between groups. Results: The results of the statistical analysis and descriptive statistical characteristics for the unmatched samples are presented in this paper. We also present the differences between the PBL group and two non-PBL groups based on the unmatched samples. All calculations were performed on one outcome measure: the final scores of students. The results show that even within a short period of time (one semester or academic year), applying PBL can have promising effects, although these effects are generally not statistically significant. However, after matching, the differences between the PBL and non-PBL groups were significant. Discussion and conclusions: Even a preliminary and limited introduction of PBL appears to have promising impacts on learning outcomes, as demonstrated by students’ final scores on subjects that were taught using the PBL approach. The results suggest that post-Soviet countries with education traditions that differ from Western ones can benefit from PBL. It is advised to prolong the implementation of PBL and advocate for wider dissemination of this method in Azerbaijan and elsewhere in post-Soviet countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges of Project Based Learning (PBL) in Engineering Education)
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17 pages, 7244 KiB  
Article
Project-Based Learning of Mechanical Design Utilizing CAE Structural Analyses
by Atsushi Kondo, Hiroyuki Hayashi and Takuya Toyoshi
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(7), 687; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13070687 - 05 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1307
Abstract
A university course on mechanical design utilizing CAE structural analyses is reported. To develop students’ skills to solve practical open-ended engineering problems, a project-based learning (PBL) approach was adopted. The course taught not only technical skills to use CAE software but also fundamental [...] Read more.
A university course on mechanical design utilizing CAE structural analyses is reported. To develop students’ skills to solve practical open-ended engineering problems, a project-based learning (PBL) approach was adopted. The course taught not only technical skills to use CAE software but also fundamental knowledge that links theoretical and practical problems in engineering. Each segment of this course consisted of a lecture and workshop. The basic concepts of structural analysis and the background theory of finite element analysis were described in the lecture. Students conducted structural analyses in a CAE software through workshop problems and compared its results to the theory learned in the lecture. CAE structural analyses were conducted in the integrated environment of the 3D CAD software Autodesk Inventor. As the final project of the course, groups of students designed an original structure under restrictions based on functionality, strength and weight. Data of the students’ performance in related courses were collected to analyse the improvement of skills needed to solve engineering problems, and a short survey was conducted to summarize responses from the students after the course had finished. The results of the data analysis and short survey indicated that the combination of the theoretical lectures and the PBL workshop improved the students’ motivation and performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges of Project Based Learning (PBL) in Engineering Education)
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15 pages, 1210 KiB  
Article
Embracing Co-Design: A Case Study Examining How Community Partners Became Co-Creators
by Liam Murdock, Libby (Elizabeth) Osgood and Luke McCarvill
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(5), 492; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13050492 - 13 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1151
Abstract
Co-design increases the number of voices in a design project, which enhances the experience for all co-creators and produces a better product. A case study is presented of a ten-month co-design project-based learning experience between two engineering design students and two community partners [...] Read more.
Co-design increases the number of voices in a design project, which enhances the experience for all co-creators and produces a better product. A case study is presented of a ten-month co-design project-based learning experience between two engineering design students and two community partners during a first-year engineering design course, which resulted in the implementation of the device across campus. This paper evaluates the elements of co-design in the design process that was employed, documents the design product that was produced, and examines the experience of the community partners through a qualitative study. Through a retrospective examination of artifacts and files, the design process demonstrated an increase in the amount of collaboration between co-creators as the project progressed and identified 15 iterations of the design. Comparing the experience of community partners throughout the design process, five themes emerged from the semi-structured interviews: (1) emotional effects, (2) physical and mental effects, (3) productivity, (4) safety, and (5) job satisfaction. Documenting the experience of community partners throughout the design project can encourage educators to adopt co-design practices in project-based learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges of Project Based Learning (PBL) in Engineering Education)
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14 pages, 2830 KiB  
Case Report
Fostering Project-Based Learning through Industry Engagement in Capstone Design Projects
by Ashraf Badir, Robert O’Neill, Kristoph-Dietrich Kinzli, Simeon Komisar and Jong-Yeop Kim
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(4), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040361 - 31 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1485
Abstract
Extensive studies have indicated that real-life project-based learning through industry involvement in capstone design courses provides benefits to students, faculty, and industry practitioners. This paper presents the contributions of industry participants to student experiential and project-based learning in the civil and environmental engineering [...] Read more.
Extensive studies have indicated that real-life project-based learning through industry involvement in capstone design courses provides benefits to students, faculty, and industry practitioners. This paper presents the contributions of industry participants to student experiential and project-based learning in the civil and environmental engineering senior design courses at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). Surveys were conducted to obtain insights into the contributions of industry involvement in the capstone design course from the perspectives of both students and practitioners. Practitioners have been involved in various roles, including project mentors for capstone design projects and/or judges for students’ capstone design project presentations. Practitioners, through the students, are provided with new ways of looking at and solving problems. Practitioners, through their involvement, provide valuable feedback to the faculty and students that enriches the overall experience gained in the capstone design course. This feedback helps improve student performance on their projects and provides them with additional tools to carry forward into their engineering careers. However, there was a gap in perception between students and practitioners with regard to the benefits of industry involvement. This paper also describes two successful capstone design projects and culminates success drivers from the reflection of instructors teaching these courses. The results of this study have substantial implications for faculty teaching these courses. They showed what students did well and pinpointed areas for improvement through the lens of industry practitioners. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges of Project Based Learning (PBL) in Engineering Education)
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