TY - JOUR

T1 - Using cognitive load theory to interpret student difficulties with a problem-based learning approach to engineering education

T2 - a case study

AU - Peters, Michael

N1 - This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Teaching mathematics and its applications following peer review. The version of record Peters, M. (2015). Using cognitive load theory to interpret student difficulties with a problem-based learning approach to engineering education: a case study. Teaching mathematics and its applications, 34(1), 53-62 is available online at

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - This article reports on an investigationwith first year undergraduate ProductDesign and Management students within a School of Engineering and Applied Science. The students at the time of this investigation had studied fundamental engineering science and mathematics for one semester. The students were given an open ended, ill-formed problem which involved designing a simple bridge to cross a river.They were given a talk on problemsolving and given a rubric to follow, if they chose to do so.They were not given any formulae or procedures needed in order to resolve the problem. In theory, they possessed the knowledge to ask the right questions in order tomake assumptions but, in practice, it turned out they were unable to link their a priori knowledge to resolve this problem. They were able to solve simple beam problems when given closed questions. The results show they were unable to visualize a simple bridge as an augmented beam problem and ask pertinent questions and hence formulate appropriate assumptions in order to offer resolutions.

AB - This article reports on an investigationwith first year undergraduate ProductDesign and Management students within a School of Engineering and Applied Science. The students at the time of this investigation had studied fundamental engineering science and mathematics for one semester. The students were given an open ended, ill-formed problem which involved designing a simple bridge to cross a river.They were given a talk on problemsolving and given a rubric to follow, if they chose to do so.They were not given any formulae or procedures needed in order to resolve the problem. In theory, they possessed the knowledge to ask the right questions in order tomake assumptions but, in practice, it turned out they were unable to link their a priori knowledge to resolve this problem. They were able to solve simple beam problems when given closed questions. The results show they were unable to visualize a simple bridge as an augmented beam problem and ask pertinent questions and hence formulate appropriate assumptions in order to offer resolutions.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84924502850&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1093/teamat/hru031

DO - 10.1093/teamat/hru031

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84924502850

SN - 0268-3679

VL - 34

SP - 53

EP - 62

JO - Teaching Mathematics and its Applications

JF - Teaching Mathematics and its Applications

IS - 1

ER -