Teaching Materials for Civil Engineers in a Slightly Different Way

Teaching Materials for Civil Engineers in a Slightly Different Way

Jonathan Oti (University of South Wales, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5915-3.ch006


The overall aim of this chapter is to report the possibility of teaching materials for civil engineers in a slightly different way. Under the proposed change, the assessment criterion of the module was delivered through 50% laboratory coursework (coursework 1 to 10) and 50% closed-book examination. The students worked in groups, a total of 10 laboratory practical exercises were conducted, and 10 laboratory reports were submitted by the student. The work of the students was evaluated after the first practical exercise, and feedback was given to the students before they were allowed to carry out the second practical task. In this way, the students were able to take the feedback on-board and see how they were progressing. The overall result from the quantitative feedback suggests that students overwhelmingly agreed that the laboratory sessions enhanced their understanding of the module. The students read fewer materials, and most of the students achieved a passing grade. In addition, the students developed their report writing skill, which is highly relevant to the engineering profession.
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The material for the Civil Engineering module is an important part of Level Four Civil Engineering Undergraduate programs. The main lectures for the module are often supplemented with laboratories practical exercise that are normally done in groups of around 3 - 14 students. Such laboratory sessions offer students the opportunity to learn by doing, engage with each other, which creates an alternative learning experience to the formal classroom lecture. The students connect their practical experiences at the laboratory session with the theoretical concept of the material they are working with; in this way the students learning experience is improved (Kolb, 1984).

Previous studies by Cranston and Lock (2012) on learning experience discussed a variety of techniques to stimulate student learning during a fluid mechanics laboratory session. Sura et al (2011) reported on an effective teaching and learning approach that will facilitate architectural program with reference made to the framework of educational psychology. Maudsley and Strivens (2000) reported on how professional knowledge can be promoted for medical students using experiential learning and critical thinking. KoIb (1984) reported that experiential learning leads to experience which is the source of development. The core of Kolb’s four-stage model is a simple description of a learning cycle (KoIb, 1984). The majority of the workers (Miettinen 2000, Boud and Miller 1996, Weil and McGill 1989) agree that experiential learning is an established approach in the tradition of higher education. Healey and Jenkins (2000), reported on Kolb’s experiential learning theory and its application in Geography. Henry (1989) reported on some practice in experiential learning, the work identified four distinct “villages” within the global village of experiential learning, in one villages, the focus is placed on how this learning method can lead to personal development. Gibbs (1988) reported on the concept of learning by doing.

Zdesar et al (2017) reported on the possibility teaching Master’s Degree course on Wheeled Mobile Robotics, in a slightly different way. The approach used various inductive teaching methodologies, such as simulation challenges, individual projects, multi-team projects and competition challenges. The induction teaching approach was demonstrated to be an improved way to keep students motivated as it encouraged the students to seek the help of the instructor to find answers and solutions to the challenge set. Fidalgo-Blanco (2017) reported on the use of the micro flip teaching methodology. The work explained how this teaching method encouraged the active participation of students through the creation of spaces that provide online video, for classroom use. The results showed that using the micro flip teaching model had a direct and beneficial impact on student learning. As student perception of the usefulness of the model was based more on the methodology of teaching employed, than on either the course content or the teachers participating in the experience.

The focus of this Chapter will report on how to teach the Materials for Civil Engineers module in a slightly different way to improve the student learning experience. This is in contrast to the traditional form of University teaching where the Lecturer stands at the front of large groups of students and recite information relevant to the lectures accompanied by a power point. Then assigns the students two pieces of coursework, each valued 20% of the overall module mark, followed by a closed book examination, with a value of 60% of the total module.

Under the proposed change, the assessment criteria of the module was delivered through 50% laboratory coursework (coursework 1 to 10) and 50% closed book examination.

This paper discusses how learning by doing, enabled the students to establish a connection between their practical experiences and the theoretical concepts. The paper also analyses the quantitative feedbacks collected from the students, in order to assess the effectiveness and success of Civil Engineers materials in this approach.

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