Problem and Project Based Curriculum Vs. CDIO

Problem and Project Based Curriculum Vs. CDIO

O. Kaikkonen, T. Lahtinen (2011).  Problem and Project Based Curriculum Vs. CDIO. 10.


In engineering education the qualifications and competencies have been determined mainly from the point of view of science and technology. Especially during the 90ties the spectrum of competencies of engineers expanded to concern more social and interpersonal items (teamwork, management), communication (foreign languages, presentation skills), acquisition of knowledge and problem solving: from Theory to Skills. There was a growing gap between the competencies required by the industry and produced by the education system. Traditional engineering curriculum cannot properly face this challenge: there was a need for a fundamental update of the curriculums of engineering programs. 

To change the strategy of curriculum totally will start a massive change process, which will cover the whole organisation. All changes create instability to the organisation: the sense of insecurity, incompetence and lack of professionalism. Therefore change management is essential to ensure the continuation of the process. In every change process you need a proper strategy as a backbone of your development process. As a CDIO Collaborator we changed our pedagogical strategy from Problem and Project Learning to CDIO. This means that Problem and Project Learning now has a "tool" status: they are tools for the implementing process. 

The Curriculum should be seen as a complete plan, how the learning and teaching are implemented and organized in the program, not just a list of contents. Our present curriculum is based on a hybrid model of Problem Based Learning (PBL) and Project Learning. During the 1st and 2nd study year the basic knowledge and skills are studied mainly with PBL and Project Learning. The focus is on the development of study and process skills. The basic technology of Mechatronics is also learned. In the 3rd and 4th study year the students will work in demanding projects with companies (real life cases). The professional core studies have been integrated in three categories: Automatic Systems, Mechanical Systems and Production Technology. In every study year students will conduct a whole planning and implementation process: from an automatic device (1st year) to whole systems. 

In this paper we will discuss how Problem Based and Project Based Learning are related to CDIO and compare PBL and Project Learning to CDIO (key elements, focus, outcomes). We also compare our present curriculum to the 12 CDIO Standards and analyse how they match. How many of the standards are fulfilled from our perspective? As an end result we produce a collection of evidence as a part of that survey and a list of tasks which we have to execute to be considered a CDIO Engineering Program. 


Authors (New): 
Olli Kaikkonen
Teijo Lahtinen
Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Finland
project learning
CDIO standards
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