Overview - University of Wollongong Teaching & Learning Journal

Article Title

Problem-based approach in teaching advanced robotics


Robotics is an elective subject offered in the three Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. As Robotics is dealt with in a similar way in each department, the trend has been to offer a common subject and share the teaching load. Robotics is a multi-disciplinary subject covering various topics in mathematics, mechanics, control, instrumentation and sensors. The students, however, have distinctly different academic backgrounds. The combinations of these factors, ie the diversity of the students and the nature of the subject, create a teaching environment which is quite challenging but has great potential for innovation in teaching and learning. In this article a teaching approach specifically tailored to meet the challenges of this subject is described. This is basically a problem-based approach which attempts to achieve the essential characteristics of "cognitive apprenticeship" as outlined by Wilson and Cole. The important components of the teaching innovation will be highlighted, and outcomes measured by teaching diagnostic surveys conducted in 1994 and 1995 will be reported.