Scholarly article on topic 'Study on the Cultivation of College Students’ Science and Technology Innovative Ability in Electrotechnics Teaching Based on PBL Mode'

Study on the Cultivation of College Students’ Science and Technology Innovative Ability in Electrotechnics Teaching Based on PBL Mode Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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{"PBL teaching mode" / "electrotechnics course" / "autonomous learning" / "science and technology innovative ability"}

Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Li Zhiyu

Abstract The key to the cultivation of college students’ science and technology innovative ability is to encourage students to exert their own subjective initiative in learning. Problem-based Learning (PBL) mode is a kind of student-centred teaching mode and an autonomous learning mode. This study proposes introducing PBL mode into electrotechnics teaching. Firstly, we analyze the problems occurring in the present electrotechnics teaching in China; secondly, we present the feasibility of introducing PBL mode into electrotechnics teaching and introduce PBL teaching process; thirdly, we propose some specific measures beneficial for cultivating students’ science and technology innovative ability in the PBL-based electrotechnics teaching mode; lastly, we summarize the key problems in implementing PBL and offer the corresponding solutions.

Academic research paper on topic "Study on the Cultivation of College Students’ Science and Technology Innovative Ability in Electrotechnics Teaching Based on PBL Mode"

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IERI Procedía 2 (2012) 287 - 292

2012 International Conference on Future Computer Supported Education

Study on the Cultivation of College Students' Science and Technology Innovative Ability in Electrotechnics Teaching

Based on PBL Mode

Li Zhiyu*

School of Mechatronics, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an, 710072, China

Abstract

The key to the cultivation of college students' science and technology innovative ability is to encourage students to exert their own subjective initiative in learning. Problem-based Learning (PBL) mode is a kind of student-centred teaching mode and an autonomous learning mode. This study proposes introducing PBL mode into electrotechnics teaching. Firstly, we analyze the problems occurring in the present electrotechnics teaching in China; secondly, we present the feasibility of introducing PBL mode into electrotechnics teaching and introduce PBL teaching process; thirdly, we propose some specific measures beneficial for cultivating students' science and technology innovative ability in the PBL-based electrotechnics teaching mode; lastly, we summarize the key problems in implementing PBL and offer the corresponding solutions.

© 2012 Published by Elsevier B.V.

Selection and peer review under responsibility of Information Engineering Research Institute

Keywords: PBL teaching mode, electrotechnics course, autonomous learning, science and technology innovative ability

1. Introduction

The current international competition is reflected in the competition for the high-quality talents with science and technology innovative ability. Colleges and universities should play a significant role in reforming the mode of cultivating students' science and technology innovative ability. How to guide college students to carry out science and technology innovation to adapt to the social development should be one of

* Corresponding author. E-mail address: lizhiyu@nwpu.edu.cn.

2212-6678 © 2012 Published by Elsevier B.V. Selection and peer review under responsibility of Information Engineering Research Institute doi:10.1016/j.ieri.2012.06.090

the most important research subjects. The cultivation of the college students' science and technology innovative ability should be a process influenced by many factors. There are two blocks hindering the improvement of college students' science and technology innovative ability in China. The first one is the standardization of thinking mode; students have to experience thousands of standardized examinations before entering the university, so their thinking modes are more standardized. The second one is that students have little chance to put what they have learned into practice. So it is a kind of rigid knowledge absorption[1_3].

Electrotechnics course is a basic course of the non-electricity major. The content almost covers each field of electrical and electronic discipline. Although its content is not deep but covers a wide range of knowledge and offers a large amount of information. Besides, it stresses theory learning and the improvement of students' practical ability. And it plays an indispensable role in the knowledge structure of engineering students. In view of the current cultivation system of college students' innovative ability and electrotechnics teaching situation, we propose introducing an interactive teaching mode—Problem-based Learning (PBL) into electrotechnics teaching to make students master the fundamental theory, basic knowledge and basic skills of electrotechnics, and meanwhile cultivate college students' science and technology innovative ability to make them adapt to the current social development.

2. The Problems in the Current Electrotechnics Teaching in China

Over the years, influenced by the traditional education thought, electrotechnics teaching is mainly characterized by emphasizing the accumulation of knowledge and teachers' instruction. It is usually carried out in big classes with the limited class hour and enormous amount of teaching contents. There are still some problems in the current teaching.

(1) The teaching content is mainly focused on the instruction of the existing knowledge, neglecting knowledge creation. Thus the current teaching approach lays great emphasis on the knowledge instruction and repetition, ignoring the cultivation of students' innovative awareness, innovative thinking and practical ability.

(2) The current teaching approach is class-centered teaching. At present, the traditional force-feeding teaching method still plays a main role. In the class, college students only act as the passive audience, lacking active thinking and the interaction with their teachers. This kind of teaching method puts a great limit on students' free thinking and imagination and suppresses the students' personality development.

(3) In the present exam-oriented teaching mode, the teaching contents are limited by the designated textbooks. Besides, teachers have got used to conducting their instruction according to the fixed teaching plan and do not cover additional knowledge to excite students' active thinking and imagination. And students, in order to pass the exam, only focus their attention on reviewing the teaching contents covered by their teachers, and coping with a large number of exercises only related to the exam, ignoring absorbing other related information and knowledge. Consequently, the present teaching effect is far away from the social need.

In order to improve the electrotechnics teaching quality and cultivate college students' science and technology innovative ability, the current teaching mode should be reformed. If teachers can consciously offer students chance to play their individuality and respect students' choice, with the appropriate guidance and inspiration, the teaching quality is bound to be improved.

3. PBL Teaching Mode

3.1. Introduction of PBL Teaching Mode

PBL teaching mode has attracted more attention in the educational circles. It is one of the mainstream teaching modes in the western countries. PBL is a kind of student-centered teaching mode, in which students

are divided into several groups, and under the guidance and direction of certain problems, and through cooperation with other group members, students finally get the solution to the problems, which can help enhance students' critical thinking ability and ability to solve problems. PBL emphasizes putting learning activity into the relative problem situation. Through the process of solving real problems, students can learn the scientific knowledge implied in the problems, which can encourage students to think critically and finally gain the autonomous learning and collaborative learning skills as well as the ability to solve problems efficiently. PBL teaching mode makes students command efficient learning method and have the ability to acquire knowledge and update knowledge on their own and thereby improve teaching quality and effect[4].

Since 1960s when PBL arises, there have been a number of theoretical achievements and research experiments showing that PBL has a certain advantage in cultivating students' self-directed learning ability, team cooperation ability and knowledge application ability. PBL teaching mode has been widely applied to medical courses. However, there were few relative studies which integrated PBL with research methods and teaching in electrotechnics teaching.

3.2. TheReasons for AdoptingPBL TeachingMode in Electrotechnics Teaching

The reasons for adopting PBL teaching mode in electrotechnics teaching are as follows:

(1) Electrotechnics is a practical course. It is set particularly for the students who are not electric major. The content is closely related to engineering practice and there are many interesting problems for students to solve. So it is very suitable for us to adopt PBL teaching mode.

(2) The application of electrotechnics exists in almost all fields of science and technology. In Chinese universities, as long as there are disciplines related to science and technology, electrotechnics must be set. Given that the present subjects become more and more complex, the PBL teaching mode offers students an effective learning method.

(3) In the current teaching, this course is set for non-electric students and it is not their main course, but it still brings about a very heavy burden to students: too much homework and tests. Many students only scratch the surface of the course and most students learn this course only by rote. Faced with the problem of how to improve the students' learning interest and motivation, we propose adopting PBL teaching mode in electrotechnics teaching. The purpose is to make use of many interesting and practical problems to encourage and direct students to actively learn the knowledge, make students gain life-long efficient learning skills and improve students' ability to solve problems[5'6].

3.3. TeachingProcess of PBL TeachingMode

The teaching process of PBL teaching mode can be divided into three stages: problem designing, presenting and confronting stage, self-directed learning and problem solving stage, and summarizing, evaluating and reflecting stage[7].

(1) Problem Designing, Presenting and Confronting Stage. Problems are the core of the PBL teaching mode. They play a significant role in the teaching process. The quality of the problems can directly affect the effect of the teaching activities. So problem design is a key link in the PBL teaching process. After designing the problems, teachers give students the problems and let students form their own learning group according to their own interest and teachers' coordination. At this time, teachers should make students clear about their own role, the main concepts and opinions they must grasp. Besides, students must know clearly that it is their task to indicate the basic fact. Teachers should let students know the form of their achievement and the schedule of the learning activity. Moreover, teachers should offer adequate and available resources. When giving students problems, teachers should see to it that they haven't leaked the key factors of the problems;

otherwise it will greatly weaken students' ability to deal with challenges.

(2) Self-directed Learning and Problem Solving Stage. When students find that they lack the knowledge and ability to solve the problems, they will compensate for the gap existing in their cognitive structure through autonomous learning. They will extract the learning subjects waiting to be solved and assign the task to their group members. Then they will finish their task respectively. After obtaining the resources, students have to evaluate the usefulness and objectivity of the resources. Based on the analysis of the problems, students construct the possible solutions and choose the most feasible one through comparison and group discussion. Each group uses the appropriate form to report their solutions to the problems. If they can not solve the problems through self-directed learning and collaborative learning, they have to reflect the whole process of the problems solving. If necessary, they have to reanalyze the problems and conduct self-directed learning once again according to the new analysis result.

(3) Summarizing, Evaluating and Reflecting Stage. After solving the problems, each group should summarize their achievement and evaluate it according to the goal of PBL. The evaluation includes self-assessment, peer review and teacher evaluation. Evaluation is carried out during the problems solving process, which includes stage evaluation and summative assessment. In order to make team learning more effective, evaluation is usually related to the group achievement but not the individual performance. Evaluation and reflection are closely combined. Evaluation can make students think more profoundly and flexibly. Besides, the evaluation process is also a systematic process of summary, which can avoid the knowledge fragmentation caused by students' self-directed learning.

4. Measures to Cultivate Students' Science and Technology Innovative Ability Based on PBL Teaching Mode

4.1. Reform Class Teaching and Propose a Innovative LearningMode

In the teaching process, students are the centre, and teachers act as the guider. Teachers should exert their utmost effort to excite students' learning enthusiasm and initiative. No matter how rich the teaching content is, if students do not learn, the ideal teaching effect cannot be realized. Teachers should not only impart knowledge, but more importantly, train students' way of thinking, and cultivate students' innovative thinking, problem-analyzing and problem-solving ability. Different from the traditional teacher-centred teaching mode: previewing-having classes-review ing-examining, PBL teaching mode is a student-centred inquiry teaching mode: imposing questions-searching for information-discussing-summarizing. Based on PBL teaching mode, we put forward an innovative learning mode. Referring to the characteristics of electrotechnics content, teachers impose some appropriate research topic and let students themselves design a scheme to solve the problem. Students should make full use of their imagination and flexibly apply the learned knowledge. Teachers should appropriately guide students to devote themselves to learning and innovation process, and encourage students to conduct research learning and creative learning.

For example, as to the increase of the power factor in the sinusoidal alternating-current (AC) circuit, we can adopt PBL teaching mode and propose the question: whether we can use series capacitor methods to improve the power factor of the inductive load? In many electrotechnics textbooks or auxiliary materials, when mentioning using capacitance to improve the power factor of the inductive load, only put the shunt capacitor at the inductive load ends, but not put the capacitor and the load in series. This conclusion has been used in teaching for many years, about which it seems there is no doubt. Under teachers' guidance and inspiration, students gradually recognize that it is possible to improve the power factor of the inductive load by series capacitor methods. Students were randomly grouped. After searching for information and conducting analysis and discussion, some teams found the specific methods to improve the inductive load

power factor by the series capacitor method and they found that in general series method is better than the parallel method because it needs less electric capacity. Teachers' summary and evaluation enable students to consolidate and deepen their understanding of some important concepts and methods in the sinusoidal AC circuit chapter. More important is to break the students' fixed thought that they regard the textbooks' conclusion as the truth. Later in the class some students who like innovation wrote papers and won the first prize in the fifth Shaanxi province Challenge Cup College Students' Extracurricular Scientific and Technological Work Competition [8l

4.2. Implement Creative Education and Improve Experimental Teaching Link

The laboratory is the important base to cultivate students' innovation spirit, practical ability and innovative ability. Experimental teaching in university education is the key link to train high quality talents. Compared with the theory teaching, the various experiment environments, experiment methods and experiment phenomena in experimental teaching activities provide a broad platform for cultivating students' innovative practical ability.

Electrotechnics is a curriculum with both theoretical and practical requirements, but the current teaching only puts great weight on theory but less on practice. In the current teaching, electrotechnics experiment has long been in the subordinate position to the theory teaching. In the electrotechnics experiment teaching process adopting PBL teaching mode can make students make full use of their creativity and imagination to analyze the problems, solve the problems and evaluate their achievement on their own, which is of course beneficial for the improvement of students' independent thinking ability, autonomous learning ability and their science and technology innovative ability.

In the whole experiment process, students are divided into some learning groups. Guided by problems students accomplish one project together with their group members. Each member has their specific task. According to the contents and requirements students search for the relative materials, design their own experiment scheme, choose experiment instrument and decide the effective method to measure data. Students propose the experimental hypothesis, make the experiment, conduct analysis and discussion and finally write the experiment report. A project team is responsible for the whole process of a project analysis, design, implementation and data testing. Integrating project development into the usual experiment can make students fully experience the whole process of developing project of science and technology, cultivating students' comprehensive ability.

5. The Key Problems and Solutions to PBL Teaching Mode

(1) The teaching method must combine PBL teaching mode with the class teaching mode. PBL teaching mode can further discuss and solve the selected key content. But compared with the class teaching mode, it lacks systematic knowledge organization. The class teaching mode can make students master the basic knowledge structure of a certain chapter. In order to let students get the systematic knowledge, teachers should focus on the important chapter content and try to use PBL teaching mode. Under the engineering requirements environment, teachers can integrate the knowledge of the related sections.

(2) In the implementation process teachers must pay attention to the students' individuality. On the one hand, teachers must guide the students to consciously focus on the basic content of the syllabus, the basic knowledge and skills through self-study and discussion, to complete mandatory requirements in the design results. On the other hand, teachers must pay attention to protecting students' interest and bringing students' personality and subjective initiative into full play.

(3) PBL teaching mode has higher requirements for teachers' quality and teaching skills. As an open

teaching mode, PBL teaching mode requires teachers not only to master the contents of the course and the professional knowledge, but also to grasp the knowledge of related subjects solidly, and to have the ability to propose and solve the problems, make flexible use of knowledge and strict logical thinking. Teachers should be familiar with the syllabus and the students' abilities, so as to better plan the key points and difficulties on study and design the targeted discussion outline. That is the basic premise to PBL teaching. In addition, teachers should be good at organization and management, and should have the ability to arouse students' enthusiasm and fun, and control the rhythm of the class.

6. Conclusion

Improving the students' science and technology innovative ability, we must firstly provide a good system environment and culture atmosphere to stimulate their interest in the initiative innovation. Then we should conduct a teaching reform to cultivate students' innovative ability. Only when these factors function together, can college students' science and technology innovative ability be fully developed. PBL teaching mode is a new autonomous learning mode and teaching pattern, which builds a relaxed, active learning atmosphere for students. At the same time, PBL teaching mode can exercise students' various abilities, such as information retrieval, accessing information and summarizing and comprehensive understanding, logical reasoning, oral expression, the dominant learning, the lifelong study ability and so on. These will lay a good foundation for cultivating college students' science and technology innovative ability. Combined with the actual situation of electrotechnics teaching, we introduce PBL teaching mode into the electrotechnics teaching links to explore and develop college students' science and technology innovative ability. We wish to let the students study positively and initiatively, stimulate their interest and power in study, cultivate their comprehensive research ability and science and technology innovation consciousness.

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