Open-Ended Projects Opened Up : Aspects of Openness
Nylen, A., Isomöttönen, V., Daniels, M., & McDermott, R. (2017). Open-Ended Projects Opened Up : Aspects of Openness. In FIE 2017 : IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference 2017 (pp. 1-7). IEEE. doi:10.1109/FIE.2017.8190510
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Abstract—One of the most important areas of competence for professional engineers is the ability to function well in project work, in particular they need to be able to efficiently solve open-ended problems in different collaborative settings. The development of this ability is however not prominent in engineering education despite numerous authors suggesting openended problems as a pedagogical tool to promote development of collaborative problem solving competence by including elements of group or project work in courses. In our own long experience of using open-ended problems in collaborative student projects, we have identified a lack of systematic progression in learning outcomes and skill development. We see this as a major obstacle for fully exploiting the potentials of using open-ended problems as an educational tool. We present a framework that provides a structured view of challenges related to openness that students can encounter in educational projects and that has an impact on the overall complexity of the project. We argue that there are different categories of openness to consider when designing educational settings based on open-ended projects. The categories addressed in this paper are: Character of the problems addressed. Character of the teams. Time constraints. Faculty involvement. External factors. Aspects of openness in the different categories are presented and related to professional engineering competencies. Furthermore, it is discussed how variations in project complexity can be accomplished by variations within the aspects and combinations of aspects. In particular, the framework addresses development and progression of professional competencies. ...