PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING IN MATERIALS AND MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING EDUCATION ACCORDING TO THE ITESM-2015

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1 PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING IN MATERIALS AND MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING EDUCATION ACCORDING TO THE ITESM-2015 Eduardo Cárdenas Alemán, César Alberto Núñez López, Juan Oscar Molina Solís Monterrey Institute of Technology University System Campus Monterrey, México E. Garza Sada 2501 Sur. C.P , Monterrey, N.L., México Tel: (81) , Ext ABSTRACT In 1995, The Monterrey Institute of Technology University System (ITESM) defined its mission to fulfill the needs of society for the 2lst century. Two main strategies were defined: a) The redesign of the teaching and learning process, and b) to focus research, consulting, and external education to the sustainable development of our society. This paper presents a Problem Based Learning (PBL) course as an answer to this challenge to prepare people with values, skills, attitudes and knowledge, to solve industrial problems in the field of materials and manufacturing engineering. In the problem-solving process students must find and integrate knowledge of properties, microestructural behavior, manufacturing processes, and laboratory experience. They also develop face to face, and asynchronous collaborative work while faculty s role changed to that of a coach. The students make use of learning software to support all their activities. RESUMEN En 1995 el Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) definió una misión acorde a las necesidades de la sociedad del siglo 21, estableciendo dos estrategias importantes: a) el rediseño del proceso de enseñanza-aprendizaje y b) el enfoque de las actividades de investigación, consultoría y educación continúa para el desarrollo sostenible. Este artículo presenta el uso del aprendizaje basado en problemas como respuesta al desafío de desarrollar en los estudiantes: valores, habilidades, actitudes además del conocimiento que les permita resolver problemas industriales en el área de materiales y de manufactura. En el proceso de solución, los estudiantes integran conocimiento de propiedades, microestructura y manufactura, apoyados con experimentación. Los estudiantes trabajan colaborativamente dentro y fuera del salón de clases. El rol del profesor cambia de ser un expositor a un diseñador, administrador y evaluador de las actividades de aprendizaje. Los estudiantes utilizan software en apoyo a sus actividades. INTRODUCTION In the 1990 Mechanical Engineering Curriculum, materials and manufacturing engineering courses were taught with three theoretical courses (each one consisting of lectures of 3 hours a week for 16 weeks plus individual work for 5 hours a week for the same 16 weeks) and a laboratory (2 hours a week for 16 weeks). The main topic of the first course was the study of materials properties and general behavior; the second course was focused in controlling properties and microstructure through the use of thermal treatments; the final course focused in the study and analysis of manufacturing processes. The laboratory was taken in the final year were the students run experiments related to some of the topics covered two or three semesters before, figure

2 Figure 1. Students developing team work skills in the classroom. It was also common that faculty members teaching these courses presented to the classroom the results of their research and consulting projects, which is motivating for the students but this activity alone did not contribute to the developing of skills needed to solve real engineering problems. All these indicated that, to achieve goals described in our Monterrey Tech 2015 Mission [1], it was necessary to develop a new learning model incorporating the results of research and consulting activities of faculty, figure 3. Figure. 2. Traditional Education Model for teaching materials and manufacturing in the 1990 mechanical engineering curriculum at Monterrey Tech. 585

3 GOALS In 1997 began the redesign of the Materials and Manufacturing engineering courses, for the mechanical engineering curriculum, using two strategies. The first one was to evolve from the traditional teacher centered educational model to a new model in which the most important actor is the student learning of relevant knowledge, skills, attitudes and values. The second one was to transform the results of the research and consulting activities of faculties in learning activities of real life situations. After reflection about our Institution s Mission and the way faculty members solve industrial problems in the field of Materials and Manufacturing Engineering, the objective of the redesign was defined: to confront students with real-life situations demanding knowledge of materials and manufacturing engineering for successfully solving engineering problems; problems should be appealing for students to be motivated in finding a solution which, in return, will give students the knowledge and abilities required for successfully approval of the course; more importantly, it will allow the students. This scheme of education fitted in what many people knows as Problem Based Learning or PBL [2, 3, 4]; however, it is difficult to find examples of PBL for engineering education using real-life problems, being more common the use of Project Based Learning and Problem-solving learning. Figure 3. New Learning Model. In these courses the student will develop the ability to identify, formulate and solve real industrial problems in the field of Materials and Manufacturing Engineering. During the problem-solving process the students will develop values, skills and abilities such as: a) Honesty by means of a self-assessment of his learning process, b) Responsibility to fulfill homework, projects and laboratory practices, c) Learning on their own, d) Analysis, synthesis and abstraction, e) Critical thinking, f) Decision-making, g) Team work and commitment to hard work, h) Effective synchronous and asynchronous collaborative work, i) Good oral and written communication, j) Efficient use of telecommunications and information technologies, k) Ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and to interpret data. 586

4 RESULTS In the New Learning model, students are exposed to 18 real problems which they must solve. Each problem must carefully integrate knowledge of material properties, microstructure and processing related to the product/problem. These means that both, the type of problems and the number of problems solved will be important to complete the academic objectives of each of the courses since the curriculum objectives should be accomplished as well as any other academic requirements both internal to ITESM or by certificating bodies like ABET or CACEI. The quality of the problems is the responsibility of faculty committed to transform real life experience, as a result of research and consulting activities, into Problems for PBL. Faculty role changed from the traditional teacher-centered model to that of an author, coach and manager of the learning activities. Laboratory facilities were also made available for students to get experiential learning and to get the information needed for solving the problem. Problem Structure For students to get the appropriate level of knowledge and abilities, problems must have several elements. 1) Problem presentation, which includes: (a) Title, (b) Industry description, (c) General product and process description, (d) Product problem, (e) Additional information obtained by employees, (f) Information available. 2) Relevant Learning objectives of: (a) Knowledge, (b) Procedures, (c) Attitudes and values 3) Learning activities: (a) Readings, (b) Guide questions, (c) Analytical problems. 4) Resources. 5) Time schedule. 6) Activities for each session in the classroom. 7) Activities for students. 8) References. Didactic Model: PBL in the Active-Learning-Room (ALR) The didactic cycle begins when each student is confronted to the problem individually, figure 4. Students may shock at first, but the challenge to solve the problem also awakes their desire for knowledge. Students analyze the problem and complete some basic learning activities to gather basic knowledge about the problem. The next session is dedicated for the reviewing and grading of learning activities; during this session, students practice honesty, responsibility and learning on their own. The faculty explains theoretical concepts related to the problem, as requested by students, and discuss about the information and learning activities brought by students to the classroom, as well as the evaluation criteria. Students take notes, add new information and evaluate their performance. This is what we call Problem-Based-Lecture, since lecturing takes place only by request and on themes related to the problem, which makes it part of the basic learning activities. Students are organized in small groups or teams (usually, 6 students per team). Within the team, following the jigsaw cooperative learning model, two students focus their job on materials properties; two concentrate on microstructure features and the other two work on product processing. In this way, collaborative work is used to solve the problem. Students search for information, which they analyze and synthesize according to the problem and the knowledge they consider of relevance. The individual research made by students is presented in writing making an Individual contribution. This activity is implemented for students to develop the abilities of learning on their own, analysis, synthesis, abstraction and critical thinking. 587

5 Figure 4. Didactic Model: Learning Centered. After the individual research, they do collaborative work in the classroom with the objective of finding the relationships between properties, microstructure and process parameters, and ending with a written Team report. At this stage students are developing teamwork skills guided by faculty as the coach. In some instances, students may need to go to the laboratory to test their ideas (real world interaction) and to get experimental information, which may be critical in solving the problem. In the classroom, faculty gives feedback to students about quality of individual contributions and answers questions made by each team of students. Out of the classroom, two teams have the responsibility of analyze, criticize, give opinion, synthesize, and evaluate the individual contributions and team solutions of the other teams. With this information, one team prepares an oral presentation and the other writes a report. According to time schedule, teamwork can continue out of the ALR using Software or other electronic communication media. Finally, we have a debate to contrast team solutions and to find the best way to solve the problem. Faculty clarifies concepts; make important questions and moderates the debate. One team makes a presentation while another makes relevant questions. The rest of the group (24 students regularly) participate actively and has the compromise to evaluate the expositors and the critics. The time span between the initial problem presentation for students and the final debate may last for one week but sometimes can last for two weeks; time span is also part of the problem design. In the three hour per week model, the first hour (Monday) is used to confront students with the problem, clarifying as needed and making sure they established a course of action outside the classroom for the following days. The next hour (Wednesday), students present their individual contributions, sharing their findings with the other team members and deciding the final actions to complete their job. The final hour (Friday) is used for students to present their solutions to the problem. 588

6 Figure 5. Didactic Model for Learning of knowledge, attitudes, and skills. From the previous description of activities it is evident that faculty role has to change in PBL for that of a creator, coach and manager of the learning activities being responsible, more than ever, of full learning process. The interaction with teams also gives faculty insights about performance of each student. Classroom use also has changed, being now transformed to an Active-Learning-Room (ALR) in which students demonstrate their performance level every day, receiving continuous feedback and grading from faculty. Faculty also has the opportunity to know and understand student s behavior: their strengths and weakness, making possible the advice of students about: way of learning, teamwork, and other things. At the end of an evaluation period, students must elaborate a self-assessment report where they evaluate his or her level of performance in terms of involvement, learning, and completion of learning objectives. They have to recognize which changes have to be implemented in order to have a better performance in the future. Students can have course database in their computer (Lap-Top or desktop) and can have access through internet. With this software, students can track the timing of all course activities and have access to any supporting material developed by faculty. Furthermore they can participate in group discussions, tests, quizzes, self-assessment tests and the like. Assessment of the student s performance Table 1 shows an example of the elements which integrate the final score for the traditional instruction model for teaching materials and manufacturing in the 1990 mechanical engineering curriculum. In the PBL approach, the final score is the result of different evaluation rubrics such as individual learning activities, oral and written communication skills, theoretical exams, collaborative work and problem solving skills, table 2. It is important to notice that part of the final score of the student is the result of the average opinion of the group on his or her performance. 589

7 Table 1. Integration of the final score in the traditional learning model. Concept Percentage of Final score (a) 10 Learning activities. 10 (b) 3 Theoretical exams 55 (c) Report of the analysis of a manufacturing process 5 (d) Final Theoretical Exam 30 Total 100 Didactic Learning Model Our didactic learning model proposed, figure 5, was implemented without compromising course content as indicated in the National Examination Testing (CENEVAL), comments from students after graduating and studying postgraduate courses around the world in the materials field, or the traditional faculty evaluation tests from students. More importantly, it is evident that this way of working with students helps to develop the student s profile established in our Institute Mission besides learning the traditional content of materials engineering courses. Table 2. Integration of the final score in the PBL instructional model. Concept Percentage of Final score (a) Individual contributions (9) 4.5 (b) Team reports (9) 4.5 (c) Learning activities (9) 9 (d) Knowledge integration activities (9) 6 (e) Experiential Learning Activities ( 4 laboratories ) 8 (f) Assessment as a team member 5 (g) Group assessment of individual communication skills 2 (h) Group assessment of critical thinking capacity 2 (i) Assessment of individual participation in the collaborative network for learning. 5 (j) Theoretical exams (3) 30 (k) Report of the analysis of a product made of plastic 4 (l) Final Theoretical Exam 20 Total 100 Curriculum Design and PBL implementation. The results obtained in the redesign of materials engineering courses encourage other faculty members to adopt a PBL approach. Also, faculty works collaboratively designing new problems every semester. For the Manufacturing Engineering course, a Project Base Learning approach was recommended as a didactic strategy where students would work in three projects. As a result of the redesign process in the mechanical engineering department, the laboratory instruction has been integrated to theoretical courses. Finally, a capstone course was also introduced in the final semester, using e Product Based Learning strategy where students and faculty work in both the product design and process development based on real industrial problems. All this changes together created a network of PBL course that can be used to gradually develop skills, attitudes and ethical values and to prepare students for the real life engineering practice, figure

8 Figure 6. Curriculum Design and 3-PBL implementation. CONCLUSIONS Materials Engineering I and Materials Engineering II courses of the 95 Mechanical Engineering Curriculum are taught using a PBL approach since May of All students of the 95 curriculum took at least two courses using the PBL educational model. The faculty role changed from the traditional teacher-centered model to that of faculty as creator, coach and manager of the learning activities. Laboratory facilities were also made available for students to get experiential learning and to get the information needed for solving the problem. Now, students have an active learning role and their participation level has been increased noticeably. They also participate in the evaluation process. The didactic learning model proposed, figure 5, was implemented with good comments from students without compromising academic requirements for this subject in the curriculum. PBL aids in developing the student s profile established in our Institute Mission besides learning the content of materials engineering courses. The PBL network of courses (problem-project-product) in the curriculum is useful to gradually develop skills, attitudes and ethical values in students and preparing them for the practice of materials and manufacturing engineering. FUTURE WORK In the future, development of simulators to aid in the presentation of near real-life situations and problems will be explored as to evaluate their contribution in the learning experience and also to help new faculty involved in this learning approach. REFERENCES [1] Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM) University System, September, [2] Gallagher, S.A., Stepien, W.J., & Rosenthal, H. (1992). The effects of problem-based learning on problem solving. Gifted Child Quarterly, 36(4), pp [3] Higa, T.A., Lindberg, M.A., Anderson, A.A., Feletti, G., & Brandon, P.R. (1995, April). A longitudinal study of the cognitive behavior of students enrolled in a problem-based learning medical program. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA [4] Pallrand, George J. (1996). The relationship of assessment to knowledge development in science education. PHI DELTA KAPPAN, 78(4), pp

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