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Problem-based learning has been at the core of significant developments in engineering education in recent years. This term refers to any learning environment in which the problem drives the learning, because it is posed in such a way that students realize they need to acquire new knowledge before the problem can be solved. This paper presents the experience of a structured problem-based learning approach to the teaching of an introductory study module on virtual machine in the third year of an Computer Engineering graduate program. A virtual machine design problem was posed to students at the beginning of the module. Small groups of students worked on a cooperative learning project for eight weeks, while the teacher acted as the coach and the facilitator of knowledge acquisition. Partial, though not extensive, written reports were collected each week and the student assessments of the learning environment were measured. The paper closes with a list of recommendations intended to assist academics interested in adopting a similar approach.
Date of Conference: 28-30 Oct. 2010