Publications & Resources

The Impact of a Simulation and Problem-Based Learning Design Project on Student Learning and Teamwork Skills

Jun 2003

Gregory K. W. K. Chung, Eva L. Baker, Thomas C. Harmon, and Glenn A. Burks

This study examined a civil engineering capstone course that embedded a sophisticated simulation-based task within instruction. Students were required to conduct a hazardous waste site investigation using the simulation software designed specifically for the course (Interactive Site Investigation Software [ISIS]). The software simulated physical processes as well as real-world engineering processes. Our main research question focused on how ISIS impacted students’ learning of course-related content, ability to handle complex, open-ended problems, attitudes toward ISIS and the course, and use of teamwork processes. We also gathered evidence on the validity of knowledge mapping for advanced students. Assessment of student outcomes was based on the use of constructed-response knowledge maps to measure content understanding, and surveys to measure student attitudes, use of cognitive processes, and use of teamwork processes. Students reported very positive attitudes toward the ISIS experience, demonstrated significant gains in knowledge across the course of ISIS use, and perceived the ISIS activity as being generally effective in improving their skills in handling complex projects, linking theory to real-world applications, and improving their problem solving performance. Our assessment of student outcomes was a successful first attempt, but more work is needed to validate our measures with advanced students, particularly when the task is complex and requires interdisciplinary knowledge and teamwork skills.

Chung, G. K. W. K., Baker, E. L., Harmon, T. C., & Burks, G. A. (2003). The impact of a simulation and problem-based learning design project on student learning and teamwork skills (CSE Report 599). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).