Facilitating Problem-Based Learning with an Inverted Classroom
The objective of this NSF TUES Type 1 project is to develop an instructional framework that promotes self-directed learning and enhances problem-solving skills in undergraduate engineering students. The instructional framework uses an Inverted Classroom (IC) to facilitate Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and is implemented in a Heat Transfer course at Seattle University. Material traditionally covered in a lecture format is moved outside of class time and made available in an online repository of learning resources. During class time, students solve authentic engineering problems presented in a PBL format. These real engineering problems are co-developed by the project team, academic partners from Montana State University and the University of Washington, and industrial partners. The instructional framework is being created through collaboration between faculty in mechanical engineering and psychology at Seattle University and evaluated by academic partners.
Intellectual Merit: The development of the IC-PBL pairing has the potential to be a transformative pedagogy that capitalizes on the growing interest in inverted (flipped) classrooms. A model for academic and industrial partnerships in learning is created that allows faculty to teach students using real world engineering problems while providing an avenue for industrial partners to help prepare better engineers for the workplace. To evaluate the effects of this IC-PBL framework on student learning, control-treatment experiments are conducted on (1) student problem-solving performance, (2) self-directed learning performance, (3) retention and understanding of fundamental engineering principles, and (4) student motivation and attitude towards engineering studies and degrees.
Broader Impacts: The proposed instructional framework could fundamentally change how undergraduate engineering students are taught, creating engineering graduates who are better self- directed learners and problem-solvers. The engineering education community have access to an adaptable educational framework, including curriculum materials, online resources, and authentic engineering problems, facilitating future wide-scale adoption.