PROBLEM BASED LEARNING IN ENGINEERING EDUCATION. FUNDAMENTALS AND RESULTS OF AN EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH IN A CHEMICAL DISCIPLINE
Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena (UPCT) (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Traditional pedagogies, such as lecturing and demonstrating solutions to problems, very often result in students being capable to solve close class problems, but unable to apply the knowledge to solve real life problems. Problem-based learning (PBL) is one of the active and student centred instructional strategies that have been developed to remedy this problem, which have gained considerable attention in the recent decades. PBL involves students' identifying of their knowledge and skills and applying them in the new situation or achieving to the definite goals, trying to discover new methods to solve the problem by combining both the previous and the new acquired knowledge.
PBL has been defined as a curricular design (and a pedagogical method) that focuses on the learner, using real life problems and situations to stimulate students learning through small groups discussion wherein knowledge pertaining to the problem is derived. Three main learning principles have been described to support PBL approach: cognitive learning, collaborative learning and contents. The cognitive learning approach means that learning is organized around problems that provide the starting point of the learning process situating learning in a context and basing it on the learner experience. The collaborative learning shows that learning process is a social act in which learning takes place through dialogue and communication where students do not only learn from each other but also learn to share knowledge. The contents concerns to not fully disciplinary learning and to the support the relation between theory and practice by demonstrating that learning process involves an analytical approach using theory in the analysis of problems.
Although PBL has been widely used in health education disciplines and degrees, its use in engineering education is not so wide extended. In this paper we show the fundamentals, design, application and results obtained in the use of this instructional approach to the teaching-learning process of the discipline “Instrumental Determination of Organic Compounds” of the third course of Technical Industrial Engineering degree of the Technical University of Cartagena. Specifically, the experimental study is related to the structure determination of organic compounds utilizing spectroscopic methods (infrared, nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry). A modified experimental approach based on both the seven steps and the nine steps experimental design process has been employed. Both qualitative (subjective/emotional) and quantitative (objective/abstract) evaluation methods have been used to evaluate PBL application and results.
Keywords: Problem-based learning, engineering education, organic compound, spectroscopic methods.