Assessing the development of student outcomes in project-based learning engineering design and entrepreneurship courses

Prateek Shekhar, Cassandra Woodcock, Aileen Huang-Saad

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


This work-in-progress research paper focusses on comparing changes in students' learning outcomes in engineering design and entrepreneurship courses. Recent national calls to reform undergraduate engineering education has led to extensive research in the identification and development of effective instructional strategies. Project-based learning (PBL) is one instructional strategy that has received empirical and anecdotal support for its ability to instill professional skills in addition to technical content knowledge in engineering graduates. Engineering programs have increasingly adopted PBL in the form of capstone engineering design courses, entrepreneurship courses, and co-curricular experiences. However, PBL is broadly defined in the literature, and as such, these adaptations are often nuanced in their design, structure, and pedagogical approaches; and consequently, may have differing impact on student learning outcomes.Engineering design and entrepreneurship courses are two commonly used avenues in which engineering students are exposed to PBL. In design courses, students often work in teams to complete tasks that lead to devising an engineering solution to a given 'real-world' problem. Most, if not all, engineering students gain exposure to PBL via capstone design courses that are often required in the engineering curriculum. In addition to design courses, entrepreneurship courses also expose engineering students to PBL by engaging them in entrepreneurial projects in which students work in teams, often conceptualizing and designing products. While the engineering design process is more focused on the outcome solution to the problem, entrepreneurship design processes tend to emphasize the front end of the design process, specifically opportunity identification and validation. Students engage in customer discovery and develop prototype solutions. Although nuanced, we hypothesize that due to these different approaches, engineering design and entrepreneurship will have varied impact on student learning outcomes. In our presented work, we investigate these differences by examining changes in students' perceived risk-taking abilities, creative self-efficacy, and entrepreneurial self-efficacy in engineering design and entrepreneurship practicum courses. Preliminary results show that entrepreneurial self-efficacy increases in both design and entrepreneurship courses. However, differences in the magnitude of change for its subconstructs are noted between the two courses. In contrast, increase in risk-taking and creative self-efficacy is only found in the entrepreneurship course and not in the engineering design course. Future work will focus on analyzing the pre-post survey data for statistically significant changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFrontiers in Education
Subtitle of host publicationFostering Innovation Through Diversity, FIE 2018 - Conference Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781538611739
StatePublished - Jul 2 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event48th Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2018 - San Jose, United States
Duration: Oct 3 2018Oct 6 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference48th Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


  • Assessment
  • Creative self-efficacy
  • Engineering design education
  • Entrepreneurial self-efficacy
  • Entrepreneurship education
  • Learning outcomes
  • Risk-taking


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