Date of Award

12-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Klotz, Leidy

Committee Member

Bell , Lansford

Committee Member

Sanders , Steve

Abstract

The objective of this research is to compare problem-based learning and lecture as methods to teach whole-systems design to engineering students. A case study, Appendix A, exemplifying successful whole-systems design was developed and written by the author in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Institute. Concepts to be tested were then determined, and a questionnaire was developed to test students' preconceptions. A control group of students was taught using traditional lecture methods, and a sample group of students was taught using problem-based learning methods. After several weeks, the students were given the same questionnaire as prior to the instruction, and the data was analyzed to determine if the teaching methods were effective in correcting misconceptions. A statistically significant change in the students' preconceptions was observed in both groups on the topic of cost related to the design process. There was no statistically significant change in the students' preconceptions concerning the design process, technical ability within five years, and the possibility of drastic efficiency gains with current technologies. However, the results were inconclusive in determining that problem-based learning is more effective than lecture as a method for teaching the concept of whole-systems design, or vice versa.

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