University of Strathclyde

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    Education or Edutainment? The use of television programmes for teaching and learning with undergraduate civil engineers —  

    This case study examines the results (N=189 returned questionnaires from 217) from an innovative 3rd year undergraduate coursework (15% weighting for a 10 credit module).  The students were required to select one programme (television / radio) each from a portfolio of programmes related to civil engineering that have been selected by the tutor and recorded on the university Planet eStream facility.

    The students worked in groups (N=4-5) and were required to select a different programme from their peers. Each student was required to undertake a review (critique) of their chosen programme and to write a 3 page reflective account of what new knowledge they had gained from this exercise. The students were required to identify any ‘gaps’ in their knowledge and to take actions and show evidence (vis-a’-vis references) of further learning.

    For each programme the tutor has provided a list of related reading / further programmes related to the theme / contents of the programme.

    To enable further learning to be gained from the assessment and to encourage cooperative peer group learning each student was required to read their peers' reflective accounts and each group was required to prepare a cross-case analysis that identifies common themes across all of the programmes. 

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    Co-ordinating and supporting induction A project to gather best induction practice and develop a toolkit to support staff in delivering appropriately co-ordinated induction activities across the first few weeks of teaching.

    This work was supported by Enhancement Theme funding from the QAA.

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    Industrial Placement Big Buddies-Little Buddies Programme — Twenty-three students (with relevant summer industry experience) from years 2-5 volunteered to take on the role of ‘Big Buddies’ (BB’s) to mentor groups of first year students, Little Buddies (LB’s). Each of the BB’s will meet their group in a formal setting on two occasions during both semesters (during a CL120 Construction & the Environment timetabled class) and facilitated rolling programme of informal meetings and communication through social media will be established.
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    Management Development Program (Level 3) We piloted a scheme where students are challenged to undertake placements in various socially-minded projects. The students were placed based on their expertise and on the needs of grassroot-level organisations. Last year we placed students in 13 different projects in the greater Glasgow geographical area, in the following  academic season we will have students placed in 29 different projects.  
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    Business Clinic — The Business Clinic is a business consultancy project in which cross-disciplinary teams of 4/5 students from across the Strathclyde Business School departments (including entrepreneurship, marketing, HRM, Finance, Accounting, etc.) craft detailed, implementable solutions with measurable impact for the client organisation.

    Client organisations come from a wide range of industries but they all share similar characteristics in that they are mainly SMEs facing growth or sustainability challenges. Very many of our clients are in the third sector, thus they have a focus on solving social issues as opposed to maximising returns.

    In 2014-15, 104 students worked with 23 client organisations coming from the Greater Glasgow area.

    The students involved in the project are in their 3rd year of a Business degree, thus they already possess substantial knowledge which can be applied to solve the issues faced by the client organisations. Moreover, Business Clinic students receive training on consultancy tools and business modelling in the form of workshops at the beginning of the project.

    By the end of the project, each team of students produced a comprehensive report with a detailed strategy and recommendations for each of the 23 client organisations.

    Much of the work also took on a practical element such as attending trade fairs on behalf of the businesses or redesigning websites to make these more effective in promoting the business.

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    A Peer Mentoring System, where 4th Years Mentor 1st Years As part of our revised curriculum we introduced sessions where the final year students mentored the new intake of students in workshops related to the production of a health promotion campaign.
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    Use of MyPlace Rubrics for Assignment Marking in Large Engineering Classes — MyPlace Rubrics were used to mark written technical report assignments in three separate large classes (4 separate assignments, over 120 students for each).
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    “Reading for a Degree”: A Compulsory Book Reading Coursework and Associated Book Club

    A compulsory book reading coursework for all 1st year civil engineers. Each year, the freshers are required to read one book from four that have been selected by the tutor (see the attached document for the 24 books used since the 2009-10 session).

    The books selected for reading are chosen on the basis that they provide knowledge about the history and heritage of civil engineering including biographical text and / or contemporary accounts of inspirational civil engineering projects.

    A department book club was established to run in parallel with the coursework and throughout the academic session so as to encourage students to discuss their book reading with peers, and to provide a platform to invite book authors to the department.

    Book Club meetings to date have been:

    • December 2014-Dr Ian Stewart, Alumni, and co-author of How to Read Bridges: A Crash Course Spanning the Centuries, visited the department on the 18th December 2014. Ian is a Chartered Engineer and an Associate at Blyth & Blyth. He has a BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering (2000) and a PhD in Structural Dynamics (2003)
    • March 2013- Forth Bridge: Restoring an Icon by Ann Glen, Craig Bowman, John Andrews, Kieran Dobbs, Lily Publications. Book Club meeting in the Hawes Inn, South Queensferry.
    • December 2011-Creation of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, Joint ICE Glasgow & West of Scotland Graduates & Student and Panel for Historic Engineering Works Meeting with Emeritus Professor (Heriot Watt) Roland Paxton reading from his book Dynasty of Engineers: the Stevensons & the Bell Rock, The Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust
    • March 2011-Dr Ann Glen Reading from her book Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link: Reconnecting Communities & Hugh Wark (Senior Project Engineer, Network Rail)
    • November 2010-A Celebration of Gustave Eiffel with guest author David Harvie, reading from his book, Eiffel, the Genius Who Reinvented Himself, The History Press Ltd
    • December 2009-Emeritus Professor Roland Paxton (Heriot Watt) & Vice Chairman ICE Panel of Historical Engineering Works (PHEW) attends Book Club meeting. Author of several books on civil engineering.
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    Pharmacology Essay Enhancement Tool

    A 1-hour essay exercise on a previously announced topic written under exam conditions. Individual written feedback was given on each paper, but not a formal mark which would contribute to their final grade. In a follow up tutorial, strengths and weaknesses of essay writing and exam preparation were explored, with time for individuals to discuss their personal performance afterwards. Having explained these points, an essay enhancement tool was provided which enables students to critically self-evaluate their own attempts at essay writing and thereby improve their performance. The tool enables them to do this independently, or with peers in small study groups if that is their preference. This innovation has been tried in both final year and second year students.

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    Collaborative Tasks

    In structuring new modules, I always build in collaborative tasks which have to be undertaken between sessions which either build upon or lead into class activities. This is a very simple way of providing a structure to support student learning which encourages greater engagement with ideas and re-inforcement of learning, based upon social constructivist principles of learning. It encourages students to think more deeply, and in a structured way, about their learning, acting as critical friends for each other. For many students, it gives them a sense of security and confidence in their learning.

    The programme of study is created utilising the ‘Teaching for understanding Framework’ based upon the work of Professor David Perkins and his colleagues at Harvard University. The module handbook sets out clearly for each session goals for student understanding, pre- and post-session reading and post-session tasks. These tasks can be cumulative, such as building a data-base of new vocabulary.

    The tasks are recorded in a Reflective Journal which is assessed as part of the course. Students allocate themselves either to small groups to undertake these tasks or work with a critical friend (depending upon the size of the class) and they are expected to report back to the class.  Students communicate with each other via. e-mail or Google docs. The Reflective Journal can take a variety of forms including blogs and video diaries (and some students have communicated internationally about their learning via these means). Many of the Reflective Journals produced by students have been inspiring and demonstrate a deep engagement with learning. They have been identified consistently by the External Examiner as being an exemplification of best practice.

    Students are also expected to construct a Log Book in which they record articles (academic, national press …) which encourages them to keep abreast in their professional field and they are expected to annotate these articles and reflect upon them within their journals. In some classes, I ask students to work with a critical friend to critique an article from a professional journal (eg. Times Educational Supplement Scotland) which they then share with another pair in the class before I select a sample for discussion within the class.

    Written guidance is offered to students on the creation of their Reflective Journals and Log Books and a presentation is made on the Induction day with illustrations of previous students’ work (after permission has been sought of the students).

    The fostering of critical reading and writing is infused throughout all of my teaching and I introduce students to the use of critical frames as a means of reading for meaning and for understanding (rather than gaining a surface understanding of what they are reading) and to foster criticality in their writing. I also demonstrate the use of critical frames in my teaching and utilise them to critique with the class the lecture, a text or another source. 

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    Assessment for Learning (Book, Chapter, Jigsaw)

    A flipped classroom approach using a jigsaw book exercise with undergraduate civil engineering students (n=252) in years 1,3,4,5. -To focus the learning and assessment process on students being active in constructing their (own and group) knowledge (explicit and tacit) and to promote a ‘reflective practitioner’ behaviour akin to that of professional engineers. -To introduce students to the role of civil engineering knowledge and practice and to establish a foundation on which students will be self-motivated to ‘read’ widely as a commitment to becoming a professional engineer. - To introduce students to a collaborative learning space where peer knowledge is considered to be contributory (as opposed to ‘in competition’) to a holistic understanding of new knowledge whereby cooperation can be seen to lead to synergistic outcomes.

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    Co-Curricular Academic Studies: Civil Engineering 4 real (CE4R) as Problem Based Learning

    Workshops on real-world civil engineering problems, run by engineers from industry.

    302 students attended 1 or more of  the 55 workshops

    (N=1183 returned questionnaires from 1302 attendances)

    • 55 x 2hr workshops (Monday 5-7PM)
    • 302  undergraduate students attended 1 or more workshops (years 1-5) 
    • 1302 student attendances
    • 1302 X 2hrs= 2604 hours of CPD created 
    • (n=1183) returned questionnaires from 1302  student attendances 
    • 39 industrial partners (17 contractors / 17 consultants / 5 clients) 
    • 85 industrial workshop  presenters

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