Over the years, several teaching approaches are trialled, practiced and modified. While a direct flow of information from academic staff to students is the central view of traditional approach, the project-based learning (PBL) approach considers an active and deep learning through engaging students in a real world issue in a collaborative environment. Both approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages, and majority of engineering programmes in the world still apply traditional lecture-tutorial approach. This study investigates the outcomes of a blended model (mix of PBL and traditional) in teaching some engineering courses at the United Arab Emirates University, with the aim of eliciting the advantages of both approaches.
PURPOSE OR GOAL
This study investigates the use of blended approach (mix of PBL and traditional) with the aim of eliciting the advantages of both approaches to enhance student learning outcomes. Constraints of PBL implementation in engineering education are their resource intensiveness, reluctance of teaching staff to embrace it and differences in students’ learning styles, beliefs and expectations. On the other hand, traditional approach is generally considered as a passive, surface learning and exam-focused teaching approach. Therefore the outcomes of blended approach of teaching are analysed and presented in this paper.
Two courses were selected, an undergraduate course GENG 315 (Engineering Practices and Entrepreneurship) and a post-graduate course GENG 602 (Environmental Impact Assessment: Principles and Applications). Assessment items for both courses included class participation, quizzes, assignments, midterm exam, project report (with presentation for the post-graduate course) and final exam. Students’ group projects consist of 15% and 40% of the total marks for the undergraduate and post-graduate course, respectively. Learning resources and controlled information were provided to students with a brief outline of the project and its requirements. Students were encouraged to freely set out the direction, range and timing of activities that facilitate them to reach the best learning results. They were allowed to choose their study team of 4 or 5 mates by themselves. At the end of the semester, students were handed out a questionnaire to assess their achievement in intended course outcomes in a scale from 1 (very low) to 5 (very high). In accession to this, students performed the course evaluation at the end of the semester. The data were then analysed to find out how the blended approach helps students to achieve their course outcomes.
ACTUAL OR ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES
It was found that the blended approach of teaching in the selected engineering courses was very successful in terms of achieving students’ actual course performance, students’ evaluation of the course and their achievement in intended course outcomes.
Carrying out of blended model of teaching in engineering courses can help to minimize the problems of both the standalone traditional and PBL approaches. Even so the blended model needs to be designed appropriately and carefully so that it is well matched with the learning styles of students.
Project-based learning, traditional learning, blended model, course outcomes.