Problem-Based Learning — Live in Setúbal

In Problem-Based Learning, participants work in groups to: explore a problem, determine what they need to know to understand the problem, identify sources they can use, formulate hypotheses, and begin designing responses to the “problem” they’ve been presented.

In the PBL workshop Bill Williams and I conducted in Setúbal, there were three teams working to address the “problem” of how to integrate PBL into one of the institutions’ engineering programs.

These photos show the groups working together.  Participants in this workshop included engineering students, engineering teachers, and members of the central administration.

Inter-changes: Reflections from Dublin and Beyond

The Fulbright Commission of Ireland and the University of Notre Dame

are hosting the launch of a new photo exhibition

Inter-changes: Reflections from Dublin and Beyond

By Dr. Shannon Chance

6:00 – 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Keogh Naughton Notre Dame Centre, O’Connell House, 58 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland

RSVP: / 01.660.7670 by May 1st, 2013

The show will be available for viewing throughout the month of May (weekdays 9-5 at the above address).  You can come meet the artist at the launch or 5-7 on May 16, 12-2 on May 22, or 12-2 on May 27.  Here’s a sneak peek at the show in preparation….

A Warm Welcome to Lisbon at the Casa do Alentejo

One of the very best things about the Fulbright program is meeting knowledgable, energetic, and talented people like Bill Williams. He is a teacher at the Escola Superior de Tecnologia do Barreiro – Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal who is clearly dedicated to his students and to the craft of teaching.  He’s the kind of guy who works at the university all day then goes home and works on his research.

He’s even completing a PhD — for fun.  Can you believe anyone would do a thing like that?   😉

Nearly as soon as I hit the ground in Portugal, Bill provided me a short orientation complete with dinner at Casa do Alentejo — a place that epitomizes Lisbon. This restaurant is where Bill and his wife invited all their friends to celebrate their marriage.

The night Bill and I went there, a group of men was wandering through the halls singing traditional Portuguese songs.

So to give you a taste of my time in Lisbon, I’ve uploaded photos from that night… including the area around the Casa do Alentejo, some rooms of  the Casa itself, and others of the singing group that made it shine for our visit.

Refining PBL in Setúbal, Portugal

Setubal logoI’ve been away from blogging to focus on my mini lecture tour.  I spent a week in Portugal and a week in Belgium visiting universities, meeting with students and educators, and sharing ideas about how to teach and learn effectively.

My first stop in Portugal was to an engineering program located a ferry ride from Lisbon.

My colleague Bill Williams teaches there. I had met Bill at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) conference in Greece last September. Bill was born in Cork, Ireland. He teaches English to engineers, is working on a PhD, and does high-quality engineering education research. He helped coordinate my trip in a way that allowed me to visit five different campuses while I was in Portugal.  Bill seems to know everyone in Portugal who is doing research about how to educate engineers.

Bill hopes to get more people using active learning approaches in the classrooms at Escola Superior de Tecnologia do Barreiro – Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal so the two of us conducted a two-hour workshop on Project-Based and Problem-Based Learning.  Thirteen people came to learn about PBL, hear about methods in use at Dublin Institute of Technology and about research I’ve been doing at DIT, and work together to develop ideas for implementing PBL across one program at the institute in Setubal.

Bill and I hope those ideas will move from hypothetical to actual someday soon.

Today, I’m posting images that the institute’s photographer took of the event.  I have many more of the participants working in groups to explore the “problem” of how to implement PBL in Setubal.  I was thrilled to receive email from participants after the event via Bill — I was really impressed that they took time to say they enjoyed the workshop.

International Lecture Tour

In less than two days, I fly out of Dublin for a two-week “lecture tour”.  I’m being sponsored though Fulbright Portugal next week and Fulbright Belgium the week after.  This is part of the larger Fulbright Inter-Country Lecturing program.

We have an exciting, action-packed schedule outlined.

In addition to speaking and learning about how other people teach architecture, engineering, and education, I’ve also got a heavy load of homework to carry along.

While I’m away, I’ll hopefully find time to write three conference abstracts, finalize and submit a funding proposal, and prepare for the class I’m co-teaching in May.

Wish me luck!


Lisbon (photo downloaded from Cunard Cruise line)


Wednesday, April 10

Visit to Escola Superior de Tecnologia do Barreiro of the Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal.

Thursday, April 11

Round-table talk at Setubal Polytechnic Institute (IPS).

Friday, April 12

Presentation on Tools for Assessing Design Students’ Cognitive Development to Architecture PhD students at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST). 

Monday, April 15

Presentation on The Use of Staff Learning Groups to Transform Engineering Education at the Dublin Institute of Technology to the Department of Education at the University of Aveiro and engineers from the Polytechnic School of Águeda.  I’ll also meet some of the students and teachers using Problem-Based Learning at the Polytechnic School in Aveiro and/or Águeda (25km away).

Tuesday, April 16

Meet with engineering teachers at the Universidade do Minho engineering campus in Guimarães.


Leuven (photo downloaded from KU-Leuven website)


Wednesday, April 17

Meet with the president of the European Society of Engineering Educators (SEFI), an engineering professor at Katholic University of Leuven who also directs KU-Leuven’s Teaching and Learning Department.

Thursday, April 18

Deliver a presentation 7-9 PM on Research Paradigms: Filtering What We See and Know to the architecture school (I will discuss major research paradigms and then provide examples of studies I’ve done that used methods aligned with positivism, interpretivism, constructivism, and critical realism.  Presentation includes examples of work I’ve done in Africa).

Monday, April 22

Presentation on Tools for Assessing Design Students’ Cognitive Development to members of the LESEC (the Teaching and Learning Department) at KU-Leuven.

Tuesday, April 23

Interview with Fulbright Belgium for use on their websites.

Group-Based Learning in Action

I’m becoming a bigger and bigger believer in collaborative learning!  Last semester I did lot of research about how engineering professors (i.e., lecturers) here at Dublin Institute of Technology worked together to develop new ways of teaching electrical engineers.  I was amazed to discover how incredibly much they learned by working together.

Such impressive knowledge gain is the premise behind Project-Based Learning and other group-based learning formats.

Orla and Shannon in the throws of course planning.

Orla and Shannon in the throws of course planning.

My day today was filled with meetings about collaborative research and teaching projects.

With the help of five different tech guys, I got SPSS up and running so that I will be able to help analyze data on that Mike Murphy and I collected from engineering and engineering technology students. We asked them what they saw themselves doing in the future, how well prepared they feel to start work, and what kinds of things they’ve focused their efforts on over the past few years.

After lunch I met with Orla Hanratty of DIT’s Learning, Teaching and Technology Centre (LTTC) and introduced her to Brian Bowe. She’ll be co-teaching a course (i.e., module) with us in May.  We aim to increase the usage and visibility of Problem-Based Learning at DIT by teaching more teachers to use Problem-Based Learning in their own classrooms.

And now, tonight, I’ve been working on a proposal for funding with Ted Burke and Damon Berry.  It’s an opportunity that the college’s head of research, Marek Rebow, told me about yesterday and it has to be completed immediately.

I rallied the troops. Ted drafted some text. Then Damon and I were adding our own contributions to it using Google Docs.  It was so strange… Damon and me editing the same document at the same time.  It turned into a bit of an academic chat session.  We tossed ideas back and forth, discussing budget, objectives, and ways to improve what we’ve already got in place.

We’ll do more of that tomorrow, when the three of us meet to hash this out… and have some fun learning in the process.

Here’s to Sunny Days

Thanks to my former student, Kristina Iverson Crawley for posting this gem on Facebook today:

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny. – Mahatma Gandhi

The sun is out in Dublin today, bringing good cheer....

The sun is out in Dublin today, bringing good cheer….

Fulbright Positions in Architecture

I received email notification about exciting Fulbright opportunities in Architecture.

I am writing to inform you of exciting U.S. Fulbright Scholar grant opportunities in Europe and Eurasia in the field of architecture. Applications for the 2014-15 academic year are currently being accepted from all levels of faculty and professionals, including early career.

We are soliciting applications for a broad range of awards in your field, including but not limited to:

Finland #4197 Fulbright-Aalto University Distinguished Chair (Finland)
United Kingdom #4368 Fulbright-Scotland Visiting Professorship at the Glasgow Urban Lab
Kosovo #4266 Theory and Practice of Restoration of Cultural Heritage Monuments
Turkey #4388 Social Sciences and Humanities
Bulgaria #4169 Pure and Applied Sciences

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and hold a Ph.D. or appropriate professional/terminal degree at the time of application. The application deadline is August 1, 2013.

In addition, All Disciplines awards are available in all countries in Europe and Eurasia and can be a good option if no discipline-focused award matches your expertise. Please visit the 2014-15 Catalog of Awards at to learn more about the opportunities available in this year’s competition. For most awards, English is sufficient for teaching and foreign language proficiency is only needed to the extent required by the proposed research project, if applicable.
For eligibility factors, detailed application guidelines and review criteria, please follow the link You may also wish to register for one of our webinars at or join our online community, My Fulbright, a resource center for applicants interested in the program.

Please feel free to share this message with members of your listservs, newsletters or social media. For further information about specific awards, please contact the program staff listed in the award description.

Best wishes,

Europe/Eurasia Staff
Fulbright Scholar Program
1400 K Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005
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