A Learning Science Foundation for Project-Based Learning in Engineering

A Learning Science Foundation for Project-Based Learning in Engineering

R. Niewoehner, E. Crawley, J. Koster, T. Simpson (2011).  A Learning Science Foundation for Project-Based Learning in Engineering . 16.

Seeking to connect the cognitive sciences and teaching faculty, Susan Ambrose and her co-authors recently published, How Learning Works: 7 Research Based Principles for Smart Teaching.[1] Ambrose and her co-authors observed that cognitive and educational psychology was making great strides advancing the science of learning, but little of this science was impacting college classrooms. Ambrose et al. sought to connect effective teaching practices and cognitive psychology's advances in our understanding of learning and bring that science of learning into others' classrooms. Their book distills seven principles from the learning sciences, and then instantiates those principles with concrete teaching practices.

We find in Ambrose's work a substantiation of project-based learning in engineering, providing a foundation for understanding why this pedagogy works. Specifically, problem-based learning works because it naturally embodies all seven research-based principles of effective teaching and learning outlined by Ambrose and her co-authors. Appropriately executed, project-based learning implicitly complies with our students' ability to learn. We elaborate on four of Ambrose's seven findings and describe how the documented practices of emerging from the CDIO initiative instantiate those principles. Furthermore, Ambrose's principles suggest criteria by which we might justifiably identify best practices in project-based learning. This assessment may help promote and facilitate adoption of fine-tuned educational strategies within the CDIO framework. Furthermore, this will shift the arguments for project-based learning from appeals to intuition and trial-and-error to a more rigorous foundation built from the teaching and learning sciences. 

 

Authors (New): 
Robert Niewoehner
Edward F. Crawley
Jean Koster
Tim Simpson
Pages: 
16
Affiliations: 
United States Naval Academy, USA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
University of Colorado Boulder, USA
Pennsylvania State University, USA
Keywords: 
Learning science
Project-Based Learning
CDIO
cognitive psychology
Year: 
2011-01-01 00:00:00
Reference: 
Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.: 
Crawley, E. F., Malmqvist, J., Östlund, S., & Brodeur, D. R. (2007). Rethinking engineering education: The CDIO approach. New York: Springer.: 
Wilkerson, L., & Gijselaers, W. H. (Eds.). (1996). Bringing Problem-Based Learning To Higher Education: Theory And Practice. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 68. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.: 
Bransford, J. D., & Johnson, M. K. (1972). Contextual prerequisites for understanding: Some investigations of comprehension and recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 11, 717-726.: 
Mazur, Eric (1996). Peer Instruction: a Users Manual Benjamin Cummings.: 
Clement, J. J. (1982). Students‘ preconceptions in introductory mechanics. American Journal of Physics, 50, 66-71: 
Crawley, E.F., R. J. Niewoehner, Jean Koster. ―North American Aerospace Project: Adaptable Design/Build Projects for Aerospace Education,‖ AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Orlando, FL, Jan, 2011.: 
David N Perkins (2009) Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching can Transform Education. Jossey Bass, San Francisco.: 
Bransford, John D., Brown, Ann L., and Cocking, Rodney R. (editors), How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (expanded edition), National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2000.: 
Daryl G. Boden and Peter J. Gray (2007), ―Using Rubrics To Assess The Development Of CDIO Syllabus Personal And Professional Skills And Attributes At The 2.X.X Level,‖ Proceedings of the 3rd International CDIO Conference, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.: 
Honor J. Passow ―What Competencies Should Engineering Programs Emphasize? A Meta-Analysis of Practitioners‘ Opinions Informs Curricular Design.‖ Proceedings of the 3rd International CDIO Conference, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.: 
Koster, Jean N. ―Challenges in Grading Project Teams.‖ Proceedings of the 6th International CDIO Conference, École Polytechnique, Montréal, June 15-18, 2010: 
Ambrose, Susan. Plenary address to the 3rd International CDIO Conference, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.: 
Newman, John Henry (1852).The Idea of the University. Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN.: 
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