Engineering Students Learn ABET Professional Skills: A Comparative Study of Project-Based-Learning (PBL) versus Traditional Students

Sousada Chidthachack, Mark A. Schulte, Forster D. Ntow, Jia-Ling Lin, Tamara J. Moore
2013 North Midwest Section Meeting Proceedings   unpublished
This paper presents preliminary findings of a study that investigated the learning experiences of students who enrolled in two programs: a project-based learning (PBL) and a traditional engineering curriculum. The PBL students do not take classes; 100 percent of their learning is done in the context of industry projects to develop graduates with integrated technical and professional knowledge and competencies. The traditional curriculum involves classroom instruction, homework, and assessments.
more » ... Using a qualitative research approach, the current study focused on students that completed two years of a new PBL program in a Midwest university, and compared their learning experiences to students that are graduating from a traditional program at a different university. Initial results suggest positive outcomes are more pronounced for students associated with PBL as compared with students in traditional engineering curriculum, with regard to both Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) professional skills, outcomes, and future employment. For example, one immediate highlight of the PBL program is that a majority of PBL students ranked their program (i.e. instructors and project format) positively, and were more "encouraged" to work in teams to complete tasks for real clients in industry. The results of this study will provide insights into PBL as a model of learning engineering in the context of design and practice to support engineering programs aiming to establish project-based learning as well as academia in general. The Need and Purpose of the Study Project-Based Learning (PBL) Program Model v. Traditional Program Model For the past two decades, there has been a call from the National Academy of Engineering, National Science Board, Industry Leaders, Engineering Education leaders and others for a new model of engineering education that will produce engineers who will meet current and future challenges to keep the United States competitive in an increasingly competitive global economy. One common realization is a consensus among engineering
doi:10.18260/1-2-1153-36216 fatcat:nd7zjnndinbftpwdfbughxxxoi