University of Strathclyde




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. 



Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Faculty of Engineering

Contact Details

Dr Mike Murray




The coursework constitutes an ‘assessment for learning’ (AfL) to support and promote learning (1) 

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) (2) recognises that ‘watching training films and television programmes including the Civil Engineers Channel from TEN’ as constituting Continued Professional Development (CPD). Indeed former ICE Presidents have noted how influential and inspirational engineering can be when featured on television. In his 1980 address, William Geddes (3) spoke of programmes such as David Attenborough’s Life on Earth and he called for similar documentaries featuring the great civil engineers and their work- ‘what a fascinating tale of achievement, courage and resolution could be told’. Adrian Long (4) reminisced on his secondary school studies when his teacher showed a film about a bridges built over the River Tyne in the 1950s. Long argued that argued that the ‘impact of films of this nature should not be underestimated as three in that class successfully completed their Civil Engineering studies at university’.

(1)   McDowell L (2014) Assessment for Learning, Chapter 6, In: Lynn Clouder, Christine Broughan, Steve Jewell and Graham Steventon (Eds.) Improving student engagement and development through assessment, Special Indian Edition, India, Routledge, India, pp73-85

(2)   ICE (2010) Continuing Professional development, ICE 3006A, v3, (accessed 24/010 /2013).

(3)   Geddes, W.G.N (1980) Presidential Address 1979-80, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Civil Engineering 68 (1): 1-11, DOI: 10.1680/iicep.1980.2501, (accessed 14 /04/2014).

(4)   Long A (2002) Presidential Address 2002-2003, Transforming vision into service: Meeting the challenge through teamwork, ICE Library


A full set of results (Likert scale questionnaire and verbatim) are available as an attachment to this document. A selection of results are shown below.

  • E-stream is a nice idea to stimulate those whom do not take the time to research into their field of study on their own purely out of interest. For me I don’t think it was necessary to include this as part of a module as I spend time watching and contemplating these types of documentaries frequently in my own time. However, I do understand the importance of this sort of learning and I am sure that it is not part of most student’s lifestyle. Therefore eStream can be highly beneficial to some and a breath of fresh air to others.
  • This of course was to be a temporary platform to support the piling rig off the road and still allow traffic to use the road.  This was very convenient as prior to the site visit I was starting my structural engineering project that involved the construction of a jetty. This allowed me to have a conversation with him about the benefits of it and actually see what a jetty looked like on first hand which could only benefit me. Luckily for me it did not stop there as I noticed that this very site was using movement sensors. Again thanks to one of my Strathclyde University classes I was able to engage in a full on conversation about movement sensors and the purpose of them to this site. This was only because movement sensors were used in my eStream assignment (The shard).
  • I enjoyed watching the video and understand its intention of priming us to widen our engineering knowledge. I feel as though the coursework wasn’t as difficult or as thought provoking as a 3rd year course work assignment should be, it felt more like an assignment that would be handed out in first year to inspire us and make up the class credits

159 students (84%) agreed / strongly agreed that the programme provided them with new knowledge that is useful for a UG civil engineering student.

134 students (71%) agreed / strongly agreed that the coursework (viewing / listening / reflections /critique / literature review) would be suitable for classifying as Continued Professional Development (CPD).

142 students (75%) agreed / strongly agreed that they would watch / listen to other eStream programmes related to civil engineering during their 4th year studies.

Lessons Learnt

Establishinging a bank of programmes can be easily achieved once you have access to the online EPG (electronic programme guide) and you can then select programmes that will support your teaching. These programmes are then recorded and uploaded to the system for future access. The main BBC and ITV channels are recorded 24/7 giving a seven day ‘buffer’ to allow a member of staff to select a programme up to seven days from its broadcast date. (Contact Martin Laycock (2420)

A key enhancement to the assessment takes place when the students engage in peer collaborative learning. On completion of the individual task, each member of the group reviews all other reflective reports before undertaking the group task. As a group the students engage in peer learning through contrasting and comparing (vis-à-vis discussion, text and tabular format) each report and identify common themes (related to civil engineering) across all of the four programmes. For the past three sessions (2013-2016) this has been successful. However it is evident that this activity has similarities with the pedagogical concepts known as “jigsaw” and “flipped classroom”. For the 2016-2017 session this group activity will be reconstituted to align with the concepts noted. 


Some groups expereinced disharmony due to personality differences and / or different perspectives related to the value / academic worthiness of the coursework.

Students with an apparent preference for rote learning found it uncomfortable to be tasked to identify gaps in their knowledge and assume responsibility for addressing these through their own actions. This was evident where students failed to include evidence of questioning their viewing / listening of the programnme and seeking out answers to questions.


No scalability issues. This coursework is suitable for any class size.

Suggestions for Transferability

This courework is replicable in any course where suitable televison programmes are available to record and / or where DVD / Youtube / radio can provide suitable programmes.

The tutor has also recorded  a number of BBC Reporting Scotland (6.30-7.00pm) programmes to use with 1st year students as  a means to introduce the freshers to the scope of civil engineering in society. Programmes feature shorter reports on issues such as flooding, insfrsatructure building and longer reports on issues such as energy (oil & gas /fracking/ wind turbines) whilts other features examining ethical, political and financial issues related to civil engineering. These have be used with the 1st year students as a coursework during the 2015-16 session and will be repeated during the    2016-17 session.


Attached Document: MM eStream Results 2013-16 sessions.


  File Modified
Microsoft Word Document MM estream Results 2013-16.docx Apr 26, 2016 by Robina Nicholson