Problem based learning in engineering curriculum: the case of materials technology

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Rojter, Josef (2011) Problem based learning in engineering curriculum: the case of materials technology. In: ICEE 2011:Engineering Sustainability for a Global Economy : proceedings. Uhomoibhi, J, ed. International Network for Engineering Education & Research, Belfast, UK.


As part of the university re-branding program in 2005, both schools of engineering at Victoria University decided to adopt pedagogies of Problem Based Learning (PBL) as means to deliver their undergraduate courses. This action was taken for both intrinsic and extrinsic reasons, which were to increase the course attractiveness and reduce relatively high attrition rates. This would re-position engineering education at Victoria University in a languishing and a highly competitive student market by transforming engineering into an attractive course of study. Both schools of engineering agreed that 50 percent of their undergraduate engineering curricula be allocated to subjects using PBL delivery. There was little agreement between the two engineering schools concerning educational PBL frameworks. As a result I pursued a path in which the curriculum design and delivery would take note of other professional educational models and would be re-oriented from scientific to a more worldly critical approach. The course developments were based on a rudimentary philosophy of engineering which provide the basis for course construction and implementation. The underpinning of the Materials Technology was grounded in an ideological stance of engineering as a social profession which focused on sustainable application of technology. The subject was divided into three components that included asserted knowledge, empirical approaches and critical investigation. The last two required substantial student participation in small groups and focused in developing teamwork skills. The course was first trialled in 2006 and then formally introduced during both semesters in 2007. Given the complexity and intensity of the subject and the high demand it placed on student time, student response was highly positive. The negatives aspects related to poor study habits and unfamiliarity working in teams. The positives were high student satisfaction with subjects, low attrition rates and relatively high pass rates.

Item type Book Section
Official URL
ISBN 1562-3580
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 0912 Materials Engineering
Historical > SEO Classification > 970109 Expanding Knowledge in Engineering
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Engineering and Science
Keywords ResPubID23330, inductive and problem–based pedagogy, Victoria University, higher education, tertiary education, undergraduate courses, curricula, subject curriculum design, delivery, open ended research and discovery, assessment, evaluation, universities, Melbourne
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