Systematic Approach to Problem Solving
Educational institutes have to educate a new generation of engineers that will develop low impact, clean, low noise, minimum energy use, flexible new technology for a resilient society. Engineers solve problems. They analyse, combine insight and information into a suitable model, design a strategy leading to a solution, obtain it, and verify the result. The result should be realistic within an operational envelope. Each step is essential. Misconception, errors in design or calculation, in real applications can be catastrophic. How to teach students the engineering problem solving approach?
This question has been subject of many studies, but, in the present “digital” society where they are exposed to an overload of (often not reliable) information and constant media distraction causing a reduced span of concentration, it is more difficult to answer. Teacher centred methods (classic lectures and exercise classes) appear out of date. Problem (Project) based learning is widely introduced but also criticized . This project is about the redesign of a convective heat transfer course to improve actual problem solving ability and learning experience by emphasizing systematic problem analysis (SAP) and using recent educational developments as threshold learning concepts (TLC) , Decoding the Discipline (DtD) and student as partner (StAP)
Teachers experience major transformation of students in problem-solving ability.
Student learning experience has significantly been improved. Better problem solving ability measured by exam not (yet) seen in preliminary result. Possible cause is that the improvement is obscured by the fact that convection heat transfer is only part of the course and exam. Student feedback provides motivation for repeating the research in the next student generation. Study will be continued. SPA part further intensified using specific forms for exercises.