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Inspiring and stimulating students to learn mechatronics (robotics) through authentic projects and co-curricular activities Inspiring and stimulating students to learn mechatronics (robotics) through authentic projects and co-curricular activities HOT

Structured Abstract 

BACKGROUND  

Mechatronics is a relatively new discipline of engineering that is fast gaining in popularity. It provides the  synergistic  fusion  of  mechanics,  electronics, control  theory,  and  computer  science.  Authentic projects  focus  on  real-world,  complex  problems  and  their  solutions  using  problem-based activities (Lombardi, 2007). The  dual goals  of deeper knowledge of technical fundamentals and the  ability to lead in creation and operation may be achieved through a curriculum structure that exploits extra- and co-curricular and extra-campus learning opportunities (Crawley, 2007). 

PURPOSE 

The mechatronics engineering subjects are in general thought as challenging to learn and hence they need innovative approaches to impart knowledge while keeping students‟ interest. Therefore, purpose of this study  is to stimulate student  learning through authentic projects while enhancing the student engagement and deeper learning through co-curricular activities.  The hypothesis is that the authentic projects and co-curricular activities can positively influence the students‟ learning and their current and future endeavours. 

DESIGN/METHOD  

An  authentic  project  was  introduced  in  a  mechatronics  subject.  Students  in  the  same  subject  were encouraged  to  participate  in  an international robotic  competition  which  is  of  similar  nature  to  the authentic project. They were also motivated to form the UTS robotic society for engaging in various other  mechatronics/robotics  projects.  Feedbacks  from  the  students  were  collected  through  the centrally conducted student feedback survey (SFS) as well as testimonies from the past and current undergraduate students. 

RESULTS  

The  preliminary  study  shows  that  the  authentic  projects  and  co-curricular  activities  have  positively affected the students‟ learning and current and future endeavours. Student feedback suggests that the external  competition  contributed  to  deeper  learning  of  the  subject matter. The  UTS  robotics society activities have stimulated the student learning and contributed to enhanced student engagement and learning opportunities which are self-driven based on individual interests. 

CONCLUSIONS  

Students‟  interest,  engagement  and  deeper  learning  of  the  subject  matter  can  be  enhanced  by authentic  projects  facilitated  by  carefully chosen  co-curricular  activities  in  mechatronics  engineering discipline. 

KEYWORDS  

Authentic projects, co-curricular activities, mechatronics education 

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Created 2016-11-13
Changed 2016-11-13
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Created by Lynette
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