Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 38, Issue 10, pp 3257–3267 | Cite as

Design Principles for Problem-Driven Learning Laboratories in Biomedical Engineering Education

  • Wendy C. Newstetter
  • Essy Behravesh
  • Nancy J. Nersessian
  • Barbara B. Fasse


This article presents a translational model of curricular design in which findings from investigating learning in university BME research laboratories (in vivo sites) are translated into design principles for educational laboratories (in vitro sites). Using these principles, an undergraduate systems physiology lab class was redesigned and then evaluated in a comparative study. Learning outcomes in a control section that utilized a technique-driven approach were compared to those found in an experimental class that embraced a problem-driven approach. Students in the experimental section demonstrated increased learning gains even when they were tasked with solving complex, ill structured problems on the bench top. The findings suggest the need for the development of new, more authentic models of learning that better approximate practices from industry and academia.


Educational laboratories Problem-driven learning Curricular innovation 


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wendy C. Newstetter
    • 1
  • Essy Behravesh
    • 1
  • Nancy J. Nersessian
    • 2
  • Barbara B. Fasse
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.College of ComputingGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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