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Using Problem-Based Project to Enhance Students’ Learning Experience

D. C. W. Tsang 1, I. K. M. Yu 1, L. B. L. Khoo 1, W. W. L. Lai 2, N. S. N. Yiu 1, and A. Y. F. Leung 1
1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
2. Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
Abstract—Some students may find difficulties in developing a sense of mission in coursework in large class setting, leading to emergence of inattentive attitude or even absenteeism which pronouncedly impairs teaching and learning progress. There is a need to foster student’s engagement by active learning via a cross-departmental problem-based learning project as a part of continuous assessment. This problem-based learning project involved interactive activities and real-life practices to increase the chances of communication and collaboration between individuals, and also demonstrated the solid function of engineering disciplines in the community. By applying the Kolb’s experimental learning approach and Onion Model, this project embedded a range of activities such as discussion and Q&A sections to four taught subjects. The achievements of this project included significant enhancement in course participation, team building, and self-confidence, which were assessed via observation, interview, and questionnaire survey before and after the course. As revealed by the more positive changes in class participation based on the questionnaire results, the problem-based project proved to be more effective for engaging students in learning activities in large class than in small class. The students appreciated the project flexibility in design, exploration of engineering practice, application of diverse knowledge, addressing issues of modernization, etc., and found the real-life projects interesting and inspiring. However, high task complexity, high workload, and insufficient time in class were also recognized as the project limitations. These findings suggest that problem-based project can serve as a useful tool to provoke interactions and facilitate active learning in large class. 
Index Terms—problem-based learning, experiential learning, student engagement, large-class teaching, self-directed learner

Cite: D. C. W. Tsang, I. K. M. Yu, L. B. L. Khoo, W. W. L. Lai, N. S. N. Yiu, and A. Y. F. Leung, "Using Problem-Based Project to Enhance Students’ Learning Experience," International Journal of Learning and Teaching, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 271-276, December 2018. doi: 10.18178/ijlt.4.4.271-276
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