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Strategies for Creative Problem Solving

By H. Scott Fogler and Steven E. LeBlanc


Package Contents

This package includes the "Problem Solving" computer modules developed under the NSF grant USE-9254354, "Interactive Problem Solving in a First Year Engineering Course." This booklet describes how to install and run the modules, and contains a brief description of each module. The description includes the material covered and references to the appropriate chapters in Strategies for Creative Problem Solving (Fogler and LeBlanc, Prentice-Hall, 2nd ed., 2007) for easy integration into a problem solving course. An inset describes how to interpret the performance numbers generated upon completion of each module to evaluate the user's performance.


The modules included on the CD-ROM are:


       Problem Statement Definition Techniques


       Problem Statement Definition Techniques

  • BRAINSTORM      

       Methods of Solution Generation

  • PLANNING       

       Implementation Methods

  • EVALUATE     

       Solution Evaluation Techniques


Project History

Interactive computer instruction has been in use at the University of Michigan's Department of Chemical Engineering since the mid-1970s. At that time, interactive computer modules that ran on our mainframe computer were created for the kinetics course by Professor H. Scott Fogler. These activities have become more sophisticated over the years, always taking full advantage of the current state of the art computer technology. Unfortunately, with the advent of Windows 2000 and XP, it was found that the modules would not function on these systems. With the aid of a grant from the National Science Foundation these modules were upgraded in 2002-2004 under the supervision of Dr. Nihat Gurmen.


Educational Benefits

It is becoming well established that students learn best when they experiment with subject matter themselves and are actively involved in the subject matter (Felder, R.M., Engineering Education, pp. 674-681, April 1988). The current generation of interactive computer modules, developed over a 16 year period, takes advantage of two of the unique features of computer - interactivity and graphical animation - to incorporate a variety of learning modes.


Module Components

The interactive computer modules typically include:

  • Menu
  • Introduction to problem solving techniques
  • Review of problem solving techniques
  • Interactive exercise
  • An example solution to the exercise
  • Evaluation


Module Features

Using interactive computer modules allows students to "review and demonstrate mastery of the material at his/her own pace, [and] provides them with immediate feedback to their responses," (Fogler, Montgomery and Zipp, Comp, Appl. in Eng. Educ., Vol 1(1), p. 11-12, September/October 1992).


During the 6-year development process, we have incorporated the pedagogical expertise we have gained during extensive testing both at the University of Michigan and many other universities. This testing has allowed us to ensure that the modules best address the issues that ensure success in interactive computer learning:

  • Ease of use
  • Maintaining focus on the concepts
  • Minimal tediousness
  • Promoting learning
  • Individual guidance


Additional features in some modules include introductions to new technologies using graphical animation and entertaining motivators, which have been shown to increase the students' interest in and motivation for the module content (R. Snow and M. Farr, Aptitude, Learning, and Instruction. Vol. 3: Cognitive and Affective Process Analysis, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 1987).


Hardware Requirements

These modules run on a PC in a Windows environment.

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