Transitions to first year engineering - diversity as an asset

Brodie, Lyn and Porter, Mark (2009) Transitions to first year engineering - diversity as an asset. Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development, 6 (2). pp. 1-15. ISSN 1832-2050

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Both the tertiary education sector and engineering profession are facing numerous challenges to adequately prepare professionals to meet the future needs of society.
Higher education institutions rely heavily on the secondary school system to direct students into programs with appropriate prerequisite studies for their chosen career. However, schools are now offering a greater breadth in education at the expense of depth in specific areas. They are now catering for alternative student destinations by offering work-based and trade-oriented programs. Traditional subjects required for engineering such as physics and high level mathematics are suffering from falling numbers. Universities are struggling with the challenge of graduating students with a diverse educational background. The wide range of entry paths to formal higher education compounds this difficulty.

Diversity in the university classroom, particularly in the entry level courses, has always been viewed as a ‘difficulty’ by academics. This paper will argue that the careful integration of Problem Based Learning (PBL) into the curriculum can turn the disadvantage of diversity into an advantage. PBL can assist in meeting many of the desired graduate attributes such as teamwork, effective communication and problem solving. PBL can also help ensure that students with diverse educational backgrounds have a reasonable chance of success and that those students with a more ‘traditional’ education background are not ‘bored’ by covering basic concepts again.

Problem Based Learning, cooperative-based learning, and collaborative-based learning all offer the possibility of using student diversity to advantage.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © Copyright of articles is retained by authors. As an open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - No Department (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - No Department (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2009 23:25
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2015 02:50
Uncontrolled Keywords: problem based learning; PBL; engineering education; diversity; higher education research
Fields of Research (2008): 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields > 220203 History and Philosophy of Engineering and Technology
16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160809 Sociology of Education
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
Fields of Research (2020): 50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5002 History and philosophy of specific fields > 500201 History and philosophy of engineering and technology
39 EDUCATION > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy > 390203 Sociology of education
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390113 Science, technology and engineering curriculum and pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified

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