June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.237.1 - 15.237.13
Bologna Process – it’s time for a look back: a mechanical engineering case
Three academic years have passed since the formal beginning of the Bologna Process implementation at the Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Management Department at the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu. It is appropriate to begin to take stock of progress (so far).
This paper focuses on the new methodologies of teaching/learning and evaluation that have been introduced since then. It also discusses students’ and teachers’ strategies, aiming at adapting their behaviour to the way they have perceived those new paradigms. Some significant changes were detected, namely those related to students’ work, expected to be autonomous and continuous throughout the semester, benefiting from teachers’ tutorial guidance and reflected in a continuous evaluation.
Nonetheless, it has been a road dotted with some difficulties: changing students’ attitudes towards work and persuading instructors of the importance and need to look for innovative pedagogical strategies is not an easy task. Still, in a significant number of courses, some new teaching/learning models were introduced, based on skills development models, supposedly more attractive to students, promoting their participation and interaction.
It was considered fundamental that students should understand their role in this new model of higher education. Instructors have been aware of the central importance to the students of building knowledge and acquiring skills in an autonomous meaningful process, a process that ultimately prepares them for an increasingly flexible labour market.
Higher education in Portugal is going through a process of deep change as in all countries which subscribed to the Bologna Declaration1. The idea of creating a European Higher Education Space was formally presented for the first time in the Sorbonne Declaration2. It represented the political wish to go further, beyond a mere economic union. Education and knowledge were recognized as vital for Europe’s development. There were significant differences between the existing higher education systems inside the different countries of the union. It was time to create the mechanisms to allow convergence, making mobility easier for students and teachers in order to share knowledge and experiences, increasing innovation and skill acquisition.
The Bologna Declaration established a strong commitment between governments aiming at building a common educational area and improving transparency and compatibility. It is important to understand that this Bologna Process is the result of multiple reflections and analyses promoted by national and supranational work groups and personalities. From these the need for a paradigm shift arises, not only in educational structures, but also in the creation of thought and knowledge.
The learning process will lead students to acquire personal, academic and professional skills. These skills will play a fundamental role for the individual and for his integration in society. The focus of the learning-teaching process will shift towards the student and his
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