Inspiring future hydraulic engineers with problem-based learning

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In Taiwan, the importance of the hydraulic engineering field is growing, particularly in terms of recent water supply sustainability issues and the ongoing prevalence of weather-related events and challenges, such as droughts and floods. In order to inspire 21st century students who will serve as professionals in the hydraulic engineering field, problem solving abilities must be emphasized, fostering flexibility and innovative as well as effectiveness, which are necessary for an uncertain and unpredictable future. This study applies project-based learning (PBL) to hydraulic engineering education. PBL were designed for an undergraduate course to emphasize real-world problems while enhancing learning motivation and performance, and fostering the problem-solving skills necessary for innovation and excellence in the learners' future professional careers as hydraulic engineers. Not only divergent thinking activities, but also convergent thinking strategies (i.e., those which involve evaluating and selecting among generated innovative thoughts according to the guidelines and purposes of the activity) were adopted to better guide students in generating both innovative and effective solutions to real-world hydraulic engineering problems. The study adopted a pretest and posttest quasi-experimental design. Over an 18-week intervention, students in the experimental group completed the above-mentioned intervention, while comparison group worked on projects that did not integrate problem solving activities. Participants' final reports, which proposed solutions to the real-world issues, such as reservoir sedimentation, were evaluated and scored by an expert panel, including representatives from academic, governmental, and industrial backgrounds. A statistically significant advantage was found for students in the experimental group in terms of academic achievement on the post-test, as well as significantly greater improvement in problem-solving and professional skills. This study explored how different teaching strategies influence students' problem-solving skills and, at the same time, hydraulic engineering knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 26
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: 2016 Jun 262016 Jun 29


Other123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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