Use of Collaborative Technologies in Engineering Education

Use of Collaborative Technologies in Engineering Education

Hasan Çakır (Gazi University, Turkey) and Erhan Ünal (Afyon Kocatepe University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2562-3.ch006
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The purpose of this chapter is to explain the collaborative problem-solving approach and collaborative technologies that help engineering students to establish and improve collaboration in their coursework. To this end, the theoretical background of collaboration in education and the importance of the learning environments are discussed. Possible effects of a constructivist learning environment on engineering students' educational output are explained. Following that, the collaborative problem-solving approach and collaborative technologies are presented. Then, the collaborative problem-solving method framework and how collaborative technologies can be used with this method in the learning environment of engineering education are explained in detail. Finally, recommendations about future work are presented.
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In every context of education, students’ meaningful engagement with sound academic activities improves their educational outcomes such as persistence with the school, academic achievement, completing the enrolled program, and personal development (Carini, Kuh, & Klein, 2006). Engineering education is not an exception (Ohland, Sheppard, Lichtenstein, Eris, Chachra & Layton, 2008). The level of student engagement and student success with the engineering education programs also affect schools’ reputation and investment plans, therefore it is important to increase the students’ involvement with the school and their success with staying in school and completing the degree (Chen, Lattuca, & Hamilton, 2008). Since engineering education is a tertiary education level, it is important to recognize Tinto’s (1987) and Astin’s (1993) works on student involvement and engagement with academic activities in higher education.

Tinto (1987) developed a model for factors affecting students’ decision to drop out of college, which is called the institutional departure model. The purpose of the model is to explain how factors affect and interact with students’ decisions on whether to complete or depart from higher education. As shown in Figure 1, five major factors impact this decision, one of which is institutional experience and others are personal traits. Institutional experience is the only factor that allows faculty, administrator, and policymakers to implement in learning environments for improvement in students’ experiences with higher education. Peer interactions, faculty/staff interactions, and extracurricular activities help students to have positive experiences with higher education.

Figure 1.

Tinto’s Model of Institutional Departure (Tinto, 1993)

(Source:Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. 2ndedition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, p.114)

Astin (1993) developed a theory of student involvement with undergraduate education. He explains that student involvement with higher education requires continuous psychosocial and physical energy, both quantity and quality of the higher education activities can be counted towards involvement, student personal development and student academic achievement positively correlate with student involvement. Astin’s theory points out that during their education, higher education students should be provided with as many social, physical, and instructional opportunities for involvement as possible. By doing so, higher education experience contributes to their personal development and success in their life.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collaborative Problem Solving: An instructional approach that students work in a group, engage in problem solving activities, and develop 21 st skills during the process.

Collaboration: Making decisions and taking actions based on a group of people’s common understanding of any problem at hand with shared goals and values.

Engagement: Level of students’ participation in the educational activities in and outside the classroom.

Collaborative Technologies: Collaborative technologies are web applications that allow users to create, analyze, exchange, and share information in a collaboration and interaction manner.

Learning (Social Constructivist): Individuals create meaning of reality by communicating and interacting with each other meaning. The truth generated by reaching consensus is relative to the society in which it is created.

21st Century Skills: A general term that refers to competencies such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration.

Student-Centered Learning Environment: A learning environment where students can participate in the learning process actively.

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