Challenges to Designing and Implementing Active and Integrated Learning Experiences

Designing and implementing active and integrated learning experiences into education typically comes with some challenges. Some of these challenges are presented below, as well as CDIO-based suggestions on how to overcome them. 

Common challenges

1) Engineering professors and lecturers are very strong in their fields and disciplines, but often do not have any background or training in pedagogic theories, methods or results. They teach the way they had been taught and are unaware of the research in teaching and learning, and of the effectiveness of newer teaching methods such as active learning.

Most engineering professors and lecturers have a clear idea of how to teach a course or deliver a lecture, but they do not necessarily think in pedagogic terms. The evidence from the project, and elsewhere, is that the students respond quickly and effectively to active learning processes, but too many teachers ignore the advantages of these methods. The project team is challenged to find better ways to impact the behavior of all the teachers, and they have demonstrated some techniques, such as team teaching, but much more needs to be done to reach the larger community of teachers.

2) Lack of time for preparation of active learning techniques for courses

3) Reluctance to reduce amount of material covered, which is perceived as necessary in order to use active learning methods or integrated learning experiences. Sequential courses depend on full amount of coverage  in previous courses.

4) Deeply-rooted culture of traditionally-taught lecture courses

5) Resistance to change, from faculty, and from students who expect to be taught and learn in a certain way

6) A perceived conflict by some faculty and students between technical content and the learning of personal, interpersonal, and product and system building skills.

Addressing Challenges #1 though #5

All of the resources linked in the Benchmarking Help, and Design and Implementation Help parts of this section provide inspiration, information and tools to assist in overcoming these challenges. Specific materials that are related to specific challenges are listed below.

Information and tools related to:

  • Active learning techniques, integrated learning experiences, and their effectiveness
    • 10 Requests from Students Download (.ppt 96K)
    • Large-Class Teaching/Learning Download (.pdf 440K)
    • Dialogue in Problem-based Learning Download (.pdf 184K)
  • Preparation of active learning techniques for courses
    • Muddiest Part in the Lecture (Muddy Cards) Download (.pdf 8K)
    • Immediate In-class Feedback and Personal Response System Download (.pdf 936K)
  • Deep and surface learning of material
    • Workshop on Learning for New Students Download (.ppt 200K)
    • Learning to Learn Download (.ppt 236K)
    • Student Misconception in Signals and Systems and their Origins Download (.pdf 64K)
  • Successful implementation of active learning and integrated learning experiences
    • Re-engineering Aerodynamics Education Download (.pdf 264K)
    • Enhancing Conceptual Understanding Download (.pdf 172K)
    • Adoption of Active Learning in Lecture-based Engineering Class Download (.pdf 116K)

Addressing Challenge #6

Recommendations, tools, and templates for planning and running project based courses which integrate technical content and professional skills.

  • Recommendations to Address Barriers in CDIO Project-based Courses Download (.doc 264K)


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