A PBL experience in the teaching of computer graphics

E. Martí, D. Gil, C. Julià

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an educational strategy to improve student's learning capability that, in recent years, has had a progressive acceptance in undergraduate studies. This methodology is based on solving a problem or project in a student working group. In this way, PBL focuses on learning the necessary tools to correctly find a solution to given problems. Since the learning initiative is transferred to the student, the PBL method promotes students own abilities. This allows a better assessment of the true workload that carries out the student in the subject. It follows that the methodology conforms to the guidelines of the Bologna document, which quantifies the student workload in a subject by means of the European credit transfer system (ECTS). PBL is currently applied in undergraduate studies needing strong practical training such as medicine, nursing or law sciences. Although this is also the case in engineering studies, amazingly, few experiences have been reported. In this paper we propose to use PBL in the educational organization of the Computer Graphics subjects in the Computer Science degree. Our PBL project focuses in the development of a C++ graphical environment based on the OpenGL libraries for visualization and handling of different graphical objects. The starting point is a basic skeleton that already includes lighting functions, perspective projection with mouse interaction to change the point of view and three predefined objects. Students have to complete this skeleton by adding their own functions to solve the project. A total number of 10 projects have been proposed and successfully solved. The exercises range from human face rendering to articulated objects, such as robot arms or puppets. In the present paper we extensively report the statement and educational objectives for two of the projects: solar system visualization and a chess game. We report our earlier educational experience based on the standard classroom theoretical, problem and practice sessions and the reasons that motivated searching for other learning methods. We have mainly chosen PBL because it improves the student learning initiative. We have applied the PBL educational model since the beginning of the second semester. The student's feedback increases in his interest for the subject. We present a comparative study of the teachers' and students' workload between PBL and the classic teaching approach, which suggests that the workload increase in PBL is not as high as it seems. © 2006 The Authors Journal compilation © 2006 The Eurographics Association and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-103
JournalComputer Graphics Forum
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • Computer animation techniques
  • Computer graphics education
  • Open GL
  • Project-based learning
  • Rendering techniques


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