Integrating a PBL Pilot Module into an Electronic Engineering Programme

Lawlor, Bob, McLoone, Seamus and Meehan, Andrew (2015) Integrating a PBL Pilot Module into an Electronic Engineering Programme. AISHE Academic Practice Guides: An Introduction to Enquiry/Problembased Learning, 4.


The Department of Electronic Engineering at
Maynooth University, Ireland was established
in 1999 and graduated its first cohort of
engineers in 2004. In recent years, a number of
faculty involved in the undergraduate electronic
engineering programme have become interested in
the use of problem-based learning in general and
specifically in how to most effectively integrate
PBL into the programme. We looked in detail at
Aalborg University in Denmark where PBL has
been used extensively in engineering and science
education for over forty years. An engineering
professor from Aalborg was invited to Maynooth
in November 2011 and facilitated two PBL
workshops, one aimed at the entire Maynooth
University faculty and one customised specifically
to an engineering education context. The following
June, three faculty members from the department
visited Aalborg University to observe first-hand the
so-called Aalborg model which is often referred
to in the literature as Project-Oriented Problem
Based Learning (POPBL). Between September
2012 and January 2013 these same three faculty
members completed a part-time online diploma in
PBL with Aalborg University [Aalborg 2015] while
at the same time developing a pilot PBL module
to be integrated into year 1 of the above 4-year
engineering programme. This pilot PBL module
was implemented during semester 2 of the 2012/13
academic year and has since been adopted and
further refined as a substantial component of the
engineering programme. In the following academic
year a follow-on PBL module was developed
and introduced into year 2 of the engineering
programme. This case study gives a brief overview
of the mistakes made and lessons learned in
developing these PBL modules and integrating
them into the programme.

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