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An analysis of the problem-based instruction in engineering education

Ateş, Özlem
The main aim of this study was to analyze the implementation of problem-based instruction in electrical-electronics engineering education from the perspectives of tutors and students. Secondary aim of the study was to compare engineering students’ motivation and their use of learning strategies who received their first year curriculum in problem-based learning (PBL) format, in comparison to those who received their curriculum in a conventional lecture format. A multi-method research design that incorporated case study and causal comparative designs were employed in this study. Fourteen electrical-electronics engineering students and four tutors working as instructors at this department were selected for the case study. Observations, interviews, and document analysis were used to collect qualitative data. For the causal comparative study, Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire was administered to 452 freshman engineering students twice as a pre-test and after a three months period as a post-test. Multivariate Analyses of Covariance was used to compare the two groups on the dependent variables of the current study. The findings of the case study indicated students’ and tutors’ perceptions and opinions about the implementation of PBL, its strengths and weaknesses, factors affecting tutors’ and students’ performance and their improvement suggestions. The results of the causal comparative study indicated that there was a significant difference between the two groups in favor of the group receiving PBL curriculum with respect to students’ extrinsic goal orientation and test anxiety; their use of elaboration strategy; their management of effort regulation, and time and study environment.