טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentGalkin Amit
SubjectProject-Based Learning in Food Engineering: High Order
Thinking Skills
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisors Professor Yehudit Dori
Professor Ayelet Fishman


Abstract

Many studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of various teaching methods on the learning outcomes of high school and undergraduate students. The goal of this research was to gain better understanding of higher order thinking skills of undergraduate students of Biotechnology and Food Engineering acquired in a fourth-year project-based learning (PBL) course.

The research involved a PBL course with a context-based learning (CBL) setting. One of the course purposes was to plan and design a new and innovative food product, such as a protein-rich yogurt-based drink for sportsmen and women, or an omega-3 rich ice-cream for pregnant women. The course was taught at the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering at the Technion. The research included 68 4th-year undergraduate students. Data was collected based on mixed methods approaches, including both quantitative and qualitative tools. The research tools were comprised of a questionnaire, interviews of six students, and students' posters, their evaluation, and their final grades. The questionnaires were expected to assess the students' higher order thinking skills. In terms of cognitive skills, this study evaluated the students' ability to explain accurately and comprehensively professional terms and processes, identify the canonical structure of adapted scientific papers, and pose complex questions related to scientific texts they had read. At the metacognitive level, students’ declared vs. actual knowledge, and their ability to design a unique food product with predetermined critical characteristics, were evaluated. We triangulated the questionnaire results by interviewing students in order to understand the contribution of the learning method to their professional development and by assessing their posters and final projects.

We have found a significant correlation between the students' ability to provide headings and pose questions related to an adapted scientific paper on one hand and their actual knowledge on the other hand. Significant correlation was also found between the examined cognitive skills and the students' transfer skills, as well as between the students' transfer skills and their final project grade. Furthermore, we found an inverse correlation between the level of the various thinking skills required for a certain assignment and the scores gained by the students in that assignment.

At the theoretical level, this research contributes to the body of knowledge of the STEM higher education in the 21st century, and provides better understanding of the knowledge and skills biotechnology and food engineering students have. In the practical aspect, we suggest recommendations for the improvement of the course evaluation based on this understanding. The methodological contribution is the development of a specially-designed tool for assessing biotechnology and food engineering students' level of (a) scientific understanding vs. declared knowledge, (b) higher order thinking skills as expressed while reading scientific texts, (c) ability to design and characterize a unique food product and (d) preparing and presenting a poster of the final product. The PBL method and the tool we applied may be suitable to other STEM higher education courses and help instructors bring students closer to the industry and to science and engineering research.