Improving Learning Effectiveness for a Third Year Materials Unit
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PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was testing if the learning effectiveness could be improved by applying active learning, peer learning and statistical analysis. DESIGN/METHOD: In the teaching for the tutorials of this unit, active learning techniques were attempted. Handouts with gaps were given in the tutorial classes to promote active thinking. Since solving these questions requires consulting engineering charts and tables, there will be differences from person to person. The students were asked to attempt the questions and send the result by email. They were also encouraged to form groups and learn from peers. The results being received were analysed statistically and the distribution was released to the students. There are potentially two benefits: 1) this approach helps the students to derive the correct answer; and 2) this approach gives the students a direct sense about the typical variations of the answers to an exam question, and helps them understand the variations in engineering. RESULTS: It is shown from our study that the students were more actively engaged with the learning process and became active thinkers, compared to the previous years. The learning outcomes were significantly improved, which was evidenced by the exam results and the student evaluations. CONCLUSIONS: Active learning can significantly improve the learning effectiveness of engineering units. By utilising peer learning and statistical analysis, students can also learn the variations in the real engineering practice, and team work skills. Thus, they will be more prepared to become professional engineers.
Copyright © 2012 Chensong Dong and Ian Davies
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