Introducing Scenario Based Learning
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Introducing Scenario Based Learning Experiences from an Undergraduate Electronic and Electrical Engineering course. Benn Thomsen. An integrated part of the course structure. First Year. Second Year. Third Year. Fourth Year. Systems, Communications and Software.

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Benn thomsen

Introducing Scenario Based LearningExperiences from an Undergraduate Electronic and Electrical Engineering course.

Benn Thomsen

An integrated part of the course structure
An integrated part of the course structure

First Year

Second Year

Third Year

Fourth Year

  • Systems, Communications and Software

  • Systems, Communications and Software

  • Electronic Circuits

  • Devices, Materials and Nanotechnology

  • Devices, Materials and Nanotechnology

  • Digital Systems & Comms

  • Wider Context

  • Wider Context

  • Physical Electronics

  • Individual Project

  • Group Project

  • Project based scenario

  • Project based scenario

  • Project based scenario

  • Project based scenario

  • Project based scenario

  • Maths & Computing

  • Engineering Professional Practice



E g scenario a electromagnetic weight lifting
E.g. Scenario A: Electromagnetic weight lifting

A company hired a mechanical engineering design firm to produce battery powered electromagnetic for lifting, however, the magnet produced did not provide sufficient lifting force. At this stage in the design process of the robot it is too late to change the mechanical design or the battery type (either a 1.5V C or 9V. You have been contracted to redesign the coil of the electromagnet to maximise the lifting force.

  • Goal

  • To lift the most weight

  • Constraints

  • Mechanical design

  • Two battery types

  • Validation

  • Weight lifting competition

E g scenario a electromagnetic weight lifting1
E.g. Scenario A: Electromagnetic weight lifting

Essentially an optimisation problem

  • Need to determine and apply theory to produce a mathematical model

  • Some parameters need to be determined experimentally

  • The optimum solution determined by the model is then constructed and tested

Scenario project model cido model
Scenario Project Model: CIDO model

Concept & organisational approval?

Specification Met?

Design approval?


Feedback and assessment
Feedback and Assessment


  • Formative

    • Checkpoints

    • Competitions

  • Summative

    • Group Presentations

    • Individual technical reports

      • Traditional reports

      • Critical Assessments of other teams solutions

  • Group technical report

    • User manual

    • Due diligence document

  • Individual Narratives

    • Feedback

    • Regular facilitation sessions

    • Reports are submitted and marked online in moodle, feedback and comments provided by using Turnitin and GradeMark

    • Post scenario debrief session

    Evaluation questions
    Evaluation Questions?

    • Do scenarios excite and motivate students?

    • Is it feasible to carryout a practical engineering design project – ‘from concept to product in a week’?

    • Does the scenario reinforce what is taught in lectures?

    Student comments
    Student Comments

    “I liked getting to apply theory to a real problem and building something to demonstrate and test the designed solution”

    “I really like the lab and scenario experience. I believe a better explanation during the year of the scientific and/or engineering approach to solve a problem will be very useful for the scenario and lab. Otherwise we fall into the ‘de-engineering process’: 1. Go to internet; 2. Find a similar design; 3. Try to understand how it works; 4. Modify it for our task.

    I really believe that the ‘engineering way’ is: 1. Study what we have (measuring); 2. Understand what we want in the output; 3. Design the "black box". Now I have clear in my mind these fundamental steps.

    Probably it was your way to give us a task and see how the students discover the ‘engineering process’.”

    “I was surprised a single battery could lift so much, even though our theory indicated it could”

    It was great to beat the lecturer

    “Once the Scenario B teams were announced, I instantly felt relieved. I was never good in programming to begin with and there in my group is ‘student A’, a good programmer. I now have a new insight into programming as I did not realise simple codes are enough to program something I presume as difficult.”

    “As I do have previous programming experience I did my best to explain algorithms, object oriented programming, Java and general programming basics to the team members. It was a rewarding teaching experience, as most team members did understand my explanations and learnt from them.”

    “I learnt more about biasing transistor more in a week than I ever did in lectures although I attend every single lectures”

    “I liked the combination of almost all our modules to produce a very commonly used device”


    • Students particularly liked

      • the practical aspects of the scenario

      • Group work and the increased social interaction

      • Competitive testing

    • Areas to improve

      • More facilitation staff

      • More guidance on team working and report writing

      • It is extremely important to have a timely debrief session after the reports are marked