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Volume

17

Issue

3

Publisher

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Abstract

Active learning is a term used to describe programs where students learn by doing. In active learning programs, students work on projects where they use their theoretical classroom knowledge in real-world, hands-on activities. The activities range from single person projects to larger, complex, team oriented programs. In many programs the students work on actual hardware and software, many times similar to those used in industry. Many of the methods and techniques in active learning, such as time management and cost control are also similar to that of industry. A benefit of these types of projects is that the students cannot look up the answer in the back of a book, but must innovate, discover, or invent solutions. This produces a better rounded graduate through a fun and exciting educational environment that encourages the student to learn through involvement. Many universities are now incorporating active learning into their curricula. This trend is due to the reduction in degree requirements and easier access to materials. Also, it is seen that the traditional classroom education, by itself, does not produce the best graduates. Industry wants not just students who understand theory, but graduates who understand how to implement the theory in the real-world. Active learning is used to bridge the gap between theory and real-world implementations. This paper examines the general trends in active learning, and details the methods and challenges encountered when one such program was incorporated into the curriculum at the Department of Aerospace Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University.

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