268090 Project-Based Learning in Chemical Engineering Core Courses

Wednesday, October 31, 2012: 4:49 PM
329 (Convention Center )
Kevin Dahm1, Stephanie Farrell1 and Concetta La Marca2, (1)Chemical Engineering, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, (2)DuPont Engineering Research & Technology, Wilmington, DE

Project-based learning is a learner-centered, constructivist approach to teaching which offers several advantages over traditional classroom methods.  Problem-based learning  (PBL)has been shown to result in better content knowledge, problem solving ability, metacognitive skills and attitude toward learning [[1]].  In addition, PBL results in enhanced communication and teamwork skills, understanding of professional practice, and ability to apply learning to solve problems [[2]].  PBL is currently the most popular pedagogy for teaching design and has also been widely used for first-year cornerstone courses [[3]].  Descriptions of PBL in Chemical Engineering core courses are relatively scarce in the literature.  The presentation will include an overview of published resources (primarily in the journals Chemical Engineering Education and Education for Chemical Engineers) available to faculty members who are interested in implementing PBL.  Practically speaking, making the transition to PBL from more traditional classroom approaches is daunting and unlikely to be accomplished in a single step.  The authors will present their personal experience teaching a Chemical Reaction Engineering course.  A large design project was integrated into the course, and its specific role in the course evolved over several years, moving towards the PBL approach in a stepwise manner.  This stepwise implementation can be mirrored with other projects in other courses.


[1]. Thomas, J.W., “A review of research on Project-based Learning,” San Rafael, CA:  Autodesk Foundation, 2000.

[2]. Mills, J.E., and Treagust, D.F., “Engineering Education—Is Problem-Based or Project-Based Learning the Answer?” Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, http://www.aaee.com.au/journal/2003/mills_treagust03.pdf.

[3]. Dym, C., Agogino, A., Eris, O., Frey, D., and Leifer, L., “Engineering Design Thinking, Teaching, and Learning,” Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 94, No. 1, 2005, pp. 103–120.


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