Assessing challenge-based instruction in biomedical engineering

Ann McKenna, Joseph T. Walsh, Matthew Parsek, Gülnur Birol

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


As part of the NSF funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) VaNTH (Vanderbilt, Northwestern, University of Texas, and Harvard/MIT) we have revised courses in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Northwestern University. Various changes were made in the course content and structure to create opportunities for students to engage in solving realistic challenges faced in actual biomedical engineering practice. In addition, the classroom environment was restructured to support collaborative and reflective learning, and provide opportunities for students to practice skills expected in engineering practice. For example, students presented their findings, defended their positions, and debated with fellow students and faculty instructors their conclusions; such interactions allowed development of core engineering competencies. This paper provides an overview of the challenges and learning activities that were developed for three specific courses that have been implemented at Northwestern. We focus on the assessments used to measure student understanding of the scientific concepts, as well as the development of engineering skills. Studies were conducted in the domains of bio-optics and biotechnology over a one-year period. This paper describes how our assessment of the classes evolved over the year to build on lessons learned from previous classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12783-12795
Number of pages13
JournalASEE Annual Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes
Event2002 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Vive L'ingenieur - Montreal, Que., Canada
Duration: Jun 16 2002Jun 19 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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