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.
This work was supported by Enhancement Theme funding from the QAA.
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)
Workshops on real-world civil engineering problems, run by engineers from industry. 357 students attended 1 or more of the 67 workshops (n=1477 returned questionnaires from 1571 attendances)
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:
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.
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.
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.
A flipped classroom approach using a jigsaw book exercise with undergraduate civil engineering students (n=474) 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.