Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Implementation Strategies for STEM Courses

Presenters: Fenna Hanes, James DeLaura, and Nicholas Massa
The New England Board of Higher Education’s authentic, industry-based Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Challenges are being incorporated into secondary and post-secondary STEM courses to enhance students’ content knowledge, PBL, critical thinking, and ability to work in teams. Participants in this session will be introduced to the Web-based multimedia “PBL Challenges” (case studies) and will learn how to implement the Challenges and assess student learning. Participants will receive instructional materials to take back to the classroom.

Fenna Hanes, Senior Director of Professional and Resource Development, New England Board of Higher Education
Fenna Hanes has more than 30 years of experience in developing education/industry partnerships. Her focus has been on bringing industry and education together to develop curricula based on industry’s needs. Since 1995, Hanes has directed seven—and been the PI for six—curriculum and professional development projects funded by the NSF’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. The last three projects have been focused on problem-based learning (PBL) in STEM disciplines, including optics and photonics, sustainable technologies, and advanced manufacturing. She is a board member of the National Association for Workforce Development and has been the education chair for the New England Fiberoptics Council for more than 10 years. Hanes is the 2009 recipient of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers’ prestigious SPIE Educator Award in recognition of her leadership in the NSF ATE projects, and her unfailing enthusiasm for optics/photonics technology. Hanes holds a BS in Liberal Arts/Business Administration from Northeastern University and an MS in Public Affairs from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

James DeLaura, Chair of Technology and Engineering Education, School of Engineering and Technology, Central Connecticut State University
James DeLaura has been instrumental in bringing engineering education and STEM-related programs to Central Connecticut State University. He has worked with the New England Board of Higher Education for the past six years on problem-based learning (PBL) projects funded by the NSF. He has co-presented at conferences throughout the United States, bringing PBL issues to numerous groups. In addition, DeLaura has made numerous presentations to school districts throughout Connecticut. He is responsible for developing pre-service PBL coursework for undergraduate students in the STEM fields. His work with business and industry has contributed to the building of “real-world” PBL experiences. The program is currently reaching out to college and university professors interested in bringing PBL practices to their classes. Delaura has a BS and MS in Technology Education from Central Connecticut State University and an EdD in Higher Education Administration from the University of Northern Colorado. He is a Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE) through the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Nicholas Massa, Professor, Springfield Technical Community College
Nicholas Massa is a full professor in the Laser Electro-Optics Technology Department at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and has over 27 years of experience as an engineering technology educator, educational researcher, and engineering and training consultant. He has been the principal investigator (PI) and co-PI on over a dozen NSF grants involving curriculum and skills standards development, teacher professional development, and problem-based learning (PBL). Massa was founding co-director of the NSF Advanced Technical Education (ATE) National Center for Telecommunications Technology (NCTT) at STCC. He currently serves as a program evaluator for the NSF, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and the State of Connecticut Department of Education. He is also a board member for the National Association for Workforce Improvement (NAWI) and serves on the Education and Long Range Steering Committees of the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the International Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). He is co-author of the physics textbook LIGHT: An Introduction to Light and Lasers and has published over a dozen papers in the field of technology and optics education. In 2010, Massa was awarded the prestigious SPIE Educator Award. Massa holds a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from Western New England University and a PhD in Educational Leadership/Adult Learning from the University of Connecticut.