Learning Through Entrepreneurially-Oriented Case-Based Instruction

Juan Garcia
Formerly of the School of Civil Engineering
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907
Email: juancgi@gmail.com

Aman Yadav
Department of Educational Studies
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907
Email: amanyadav@purdue.edu

Joe Sinfield
School of Civil Engineering
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907
Email: jvs@ecn.purdue.edu

Robin Adams
School of Engineering Education
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907
Email: rsadams@purdue.edu

The engineer of the future will face challenges that require much broader skill sets than those honed in typical engineering coursework. Much of engineering education is focused on developing problem solving skills in situations for which there is an accepted problem-solving paradigm. However, when novel problems arise and a prevailing paradigm ceases to work properly, these problem solving skills are likely to be ineffective, resulting in inconclusive or flawed results. As engineers attempt to tackle the complex challenges of the future, they must learn to identify when the prevailing paradigm is flawed and successfully manage such situations in order to solve problems for which no readily available solution exists. To help engineering students develop such skills, educators must provide educational experiences that motivate students at both a cognitive and meta-cognitive level and allow students to recognize potentially flawed paradigms so they can tackle ambiguous and ill-structured problems. In many ways, the skills required for this type of problem solving parallel the attributes of another class of professionals – entrepreneurs; as entrepreneurs routinely seek to break with accepted norms and pioneer new approaches to problems they observe in their environment. With this analogy in mind, this paper presents results from the implementation of an entrepreneurially-oriented case study as a means to enhance engineering student attitudes and perspectives on problem solving and learning.


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