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The PBLE Guide

Educating Engineers using Projects

Final

The final version of the Guide was launched in November 2003 and is now available below in a variety of formats.

A limited number of printed versions of the guide are available from the Engineering Subject Centre .

Get the PDF version [Large download of 3,346 KB] (win/un*x: right-click and 'save target as' / Mac click and hold, select 'save target as') or view the Online version.

Below is the table of contents for the online guide - click to be taken to any section. (Be patient - the whole guide will load, then move to the section you request).

Section 1 Introduction   1

1.1 Purpose and projects  1

1.1.1 PBL – project-based and problem-based  2

1.2 The PBLE project 3

1.3 How this guide is organised   4

1.4 The overall package  5

1.5 Project team    6

1.6 Contact Information   7

Section 2 Case Studies  2-1

2.1 A Simulated Public Inquiry  2-3

2.2 Facilitating Collaborative Design through ICT   2-9

2.3 Learning Outcomes and their Assessment in Independent Studies  2-17

2.4 Fostering Progressive Learning Through Scenario-Based Assessment                       .                                                                                                                            2-25

2.5 Intended Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria  2-31

2.6 Running Team Projects in Co-operation with Industry  2-41

2.7 Widening the Project Based Learning Experience with Student Mentors            .                                                                                                                            2-49

2.8 Teaching Engineering through Problem Based Learning   2-55

2.9 Learning Through Competition   2-61

2.10 Enhancing Teamwork in Group Projects through  Pre-project Training Exercises  2-67

2.11 Introducing Business and Enterprise to Civil Engineering Students  2-73

2.12 An Innovative Design Class for First Year Mechanical Engineers  2-79

Section 3 Project Design   3-1

3.1 What can projects offer?   3-1

3.2 Individual/group projects  3-2

3.2.1 Individual projects  3-2

3.2.2 Group projects  3-3

3.3 Open/closed projects  3-4

3.3.1 Closed projects  3-4

3.3.2 Open projects  3-4

3.4 Incremental/innovative projects  3-5

3.4.1 Incremental projects  3-5

3.4.2 Innovative projects  3-6

3.5 Multi-disciplinary projects  3-7

3.5.1 Working across disciplines  3-7

3.5.2 Types of multi-disciplinary projects  3-8

3.5.3 Collaboration between staff 3-8

3.5.4 Technical specification and resources  3-8

3.5.5 Communication  3-10

3.5.6 Monitoring progress  3-11

3.6 Industry-based projects  3-11

3.6.1 Benefits  3-12

3.6.2 Planning issues  3-13

3.7 Summary  3-14

3.8 Additional references  3-14

Section 4 Learning Outcomes  4-1

4.1 What are learning outcomes?   4-2

4.1.1 Programme learning outcomes  4-2

4.1.2 Module learning outcomes  4-2

4.2 Why are learning outcomes important?   4-5

4.3 Categorising learning outcomes in engineering   4-5

4.3.1 Knowledge and understanding  4-5

4.3.2 Intellectual abilities  4-6

4.3.3 Practical skills  4-6

4.3.4 General transferable skills  4-6

4.4 Learning outcomes and curriculum design   4-10

4.5 Learning outcomes and project based learning   4-11

4.6 Project based learning in engineering   4-13

4.7 Formulating learning outcomes  4-14

4.8 Summary  4-15

4.9 Endnotes  4-16

4.10 Additional references  4-16

Section 5 Learners  5-1

5.1 Student characteristics  5-1

5.2 Expectations  5-3

5.2.1 Implications  5-3

5.3 Motivation   5-4

5.3.1 Implications  5-4

5.4 Abilities  5-6

5.4.1 Implications  5-6

5.5 Learning styles  5-7

5.5.1 Activists  5-7

5.5.2 Reflectors  5-7

5.5.3 Theorists  5-7

5.5.4 Pragmatists  5-7

5.5.5 Implications  5-8

5.6 Responding to diversity  5-9

5.6.1 Are learning outcomes inclusive?  5-9

5.6.2 Are learning materials appropriately representative and accessible?  5-9

5.6.3 Is the timetable accommodating?  5-10

5.6.4 Is the learning environment appropriate?  5-10

5.6.5 Are the learning, teaching and assessment methods inclusive?  5-10

5.7 Summary  5-11

5.8 Endnotes  5-11

5.9 Additional references  5-12

Section 6 Knowledge Based Skills  6-1

6.1 Knowledge and understanding in projects  6-1

6.2 Depth versus breadth   6-3

6.3 Prerequisites  6-5

6.4 Scheduled classes  6-5

6.4.1 Traditional lectures  6-6

6.4.2 Support classes  6-6

6.5 Independent learning   6-7

6.5.1 Group work  6-8

6.6 Summary  6-8

6.7 Endnotes  6-9

6.8 Additional references  6-9

Section 7 Process Skills  7-1

7.1 Process skills and project based learning   7-1

7.2 The role of the lecturer in developing process skills  7-3

7.3 Planning and organisational skills – laying the foundations for the project 7-5

7.3.1 Identifying what needs to be done  7-5

7.3.2 Deciding who will do it 7-6

7.3.3 Gauging how long it will take  7-6

7.3.4 Identifying available resources  7-6

7.3.5 Producing a project plan  7-6

7.3.6 Monitoring progress  7-10

7.3.7 Planning for the end-game  7-11

7.4 Teamworking skills – working effectively with others in projects  7-11

7.5 Formal communication skills – writing reports, oral presentations and practical demonstrations  7-14

7.5.1 Report writing  7-14

7.5.2 Interim reports  7-14

7.5.3 Final reports  7-14

7.5.4 Presentations  7-15

7.5.5 Demonstrations  7-17

7.6 Summary  7-18

7.7      Endnotes  7-18

7.8 Additional references  7-18

Section 8 Assessment 8-1

8.1 Why assess?   8-1

8.1.1 Assessment and learning  8-2

8.2 Designing assessments  8-2

8.3 Characteristics of good assessments  8-4

8.3.1 Plagiarism   8-6

8.3.2 Assessing students with special educational needs  8-6

8.4 Assessment methods  8-7

8.4.1 Assignment specification  8-9

8.5 Grading   8-13

8.5.1 Criteria based approach  8-13

8.5.2 Marking schemes  8-14

8.5.3 Methods of reducing marking time  8-15

8.5.4 Computer applications within assessment 8-15

8.5.5 Peer and self assessment 8-16

8.6 Summary  8-18

8.7 Endnotes  8-19

8.8 Additional references  8-19

Section 9 Supporting Individuals and Groups  9-1

9.1 What support is required for learners undertaking projects?   9-1

9.2 Support roles  9-2

9.2.1 Project tutor 9-2

9.2.2 Self support 9-4

9.2.3 Peer Support 9-4

9.3 Project Teams  9-6

9.3.1 Size  9-7

9.3.2 Virtual teams  9-8

9.3.3 Team selection  9-8

9.3.4 Team support 9-10

9.4 Health and safety issues  9-11

9.5 Rescuing failing projects  9-12

9.6 Summary  9-13

9.7 Endnotes  9-13

9.8 Additional references  9-13

Section 10 Resources  10-1

10.1 Staff roles  10-1

10.2 Space  10-3

10.3 Time  10-4

10.3.1 Staff hours  10-4

10.3.2 Student hours  10-6

10.4 Finance  10-8

10.4.2 Budget 10-9

10.5 Equipment 10-10

10.5.1 Consumables  10-10

10.5.2 Process resources  10-11

10.6 Library resources and documentation   10-14

10.7 ICT   10-15

10.8 Summary  10-16

10.9 Endnotes  10-17

10.10 Additional references  10-17

Appendix – Papers from PBLE Competition Winners  I

Meeting Undergraduate Students’ Needs Through Third Year projects  III

A Project for Group Working with Foundation Year Students in Engineering   XI

Assessing thermodynamics by design projects  XVII

We'd like to thank the many academics who have contributed either directly or indirectly to this project. Feedback and new contributions are now being managed through Engineering Subject Centre and other appropriate channels.