Simultaneous Usage of Methods for the Development of Experimental Competences

Simultaneous Usage of Methods for the Development of Experimental Competences

Gustavo Alves (School of Engineering (ISEP), Polytechnic of Porto, Porto, Portugal), Clara Viegas (School of Engineering (ISEP), Polytechnic of Porto, Porto, Portugal), Natércia Lima (School of Engineering (ISEP), Polytechnic of Porto, Porto, Portugal) and Ingvar Gustavsson (Blenkinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/IJHCITP.2016010104
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This work reports a didactical implementation addressing the development of students' competences on DC circuits. Teacher' approach focus on the use of simultaneous teaching/learning/assessment resources and methods in order to improve students' abilities of adapting and dealing with available tools to solve real practical problems. The impact this didactical implementation was measure in terms of students' perception, usage and learning results. The results indicate that students clearly benefit from the use of virtual resources, in developing their skills, including the associated calculus, although the majority of students do not immediately understand it. This design represents a long-term vision, and, with some adjustments, some identified in this work, this course may become more effective in improving students' learning.
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Engineering education has solid needs of experimental competence developments, regardless the area (Jara, Candelas, Puente & Torres, 2011; García-Peñalvo, F.J., & Colomo-Palacios, R., 2015). In order to become experts when dealing with complex problems in which high competence level relations have to be applied, students have to become fluent in the language of nature and a successful designer, and for that engineering students must perform numerous experiments practice laboratory work (Gustavsson et al., 2011a). These competences they develop along their education, will help them deal with more complex problems in their professional life. Traditionally this experimental work was developed in laboratories. But in the last decades, with the general growth of the number of students attending higher education, the physical resources were no longer sufficient. Simultaneously other scientists started developing computer simulations and remote labs, allowing students to practice some experimental skills in a different manner. With the laboratory time reduced in most European Engineering Schools, this became a complementary way of trying to bridge this gap (Gustavsson et al., 2011a; Nickerson, Corter, Esche & Chassapis, 2007). On the other hand, it also allowed students to extended access to learning resources and improved their freedom to organize their own learning activities according to their perception of their learning needs. This factor potentiates students’ autonomy, which was also one of the main objectives of the Bologna Process (Gustavsson et al., 2011a). The actual economic restrictions and pressure also contributes to the development of these new technologies decreasing the cost associated with classroom and laboratory spaces (Nickerson, Corter, Esche & Chassapis, 2007). It also increments the possibility of mature students return to university to update their current skills or even develop new ones, as they can access these resources from other places, minimizing the distance factor.

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