An investigation of effectiveness of project based learning on students' skills in engineering modeling and design

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Electrical Engineering, Curriculum & Instruction


Ability to model and design engineering systems is an important outcome of engineering education. Within the undergraduate engineering curriculum, the students pursue project-based learning (PBL) especially in courses involving modeling and design of engineering systems. The students undertake various stages of engineering system design including problem definition, background research, requirement specifications, brainstorming to choose a solution, prototyping, design review, and communicating outcomes. Students also get a chance to work in diverse teams and learn to work across gender and other boundaries. To measure effectiveness of the PBL approach, there is a need to identify critical skills that should be focused during the modeling and design education. We have collected data from undergraduate junior-standing engineering modeling and design students at our university through a longitudinal study spanning the last three years. The statistical analysis has helped us identify important factors that can influence success of students in their future engineering careers. These include problem solving, communication, and logical thinking skills, perception of self-efficacy to develop students' self-belief, and their course grades. The purpose of present work is to examine the effect of PBL activities on engineering students' grades and self-efficacy. Furthermore, we investigate whether there is a difference between students' course grades based on their gender after engaging in PBL activities. Finally, we also examine the relationship between students' course grades and their problem solving, communication and logical thinking skills after engaging in PBL activities. The results indicate that PBL approach significantly improves the self-efficacy and course grades of students. The PBL methodology was equally effective in improving student learning outcomes of both male and female engineering students. Significant improvement was observed in self-efficacy and course grades of both male and female students when the PBL strategy was employed. We also observed statistically significant difference between students' problem solving, communication and logical thinking skills before and after engaging in PBL activities.

Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

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