To address higher levels of thinking like “evaluating” and “creating” and transformative outcomes experienced in the real-world, “open-ended” questions should also be included in the problem sets. Sobek and Jain (2004) emphasized the need for open-ended problems. “Employers look for engineers who are effective at solving open-ended problems. Engineering accreditation demands evidence that students can tackle open-ended problems proficiently.” Open-ended problems address considerably the student outcomes on “an ability to recognize, formulate, and solve civil engineering problems” and “an ability to engage in lifelong learning.” Open-ended questions are usually ill-defined and there may be more than one valid approach to obtain the solution. As a matter of fact, the solution may not be unique because of varying assumptions made regarding some parameters. Mourtos (2004) noted in their study that “traditional exercises (close-ended) found in most engineering texts, although useful, do not adequately prepare engineering students for real-world problems. Students seem to have great difficulty approaching these (open-ended) problems; however, they also seem to enjoy the challenge and perform reasonably well if given proper guidance.”
Problem : If you were to install a
steel Z-purlin, which arrangement
would you choose to maximize the
moment capacity of the section?
Mourtos, N. et al. (2004). “Open-ended problem solving skills in thermal-fluids engineering,” Global Journal of Egg Education, UICEE
Sobek, D and Jain V. (2004). “The Engineering Problem Solving Process: Good for Students?” Proc.2004 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference & Exposition