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Facilitating Engineering Students In The Language Classroom: Multiple Intelligences Profiles To Improve Foreign Language Competence

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Culture, Society, and Co-op

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.574.1 - 15.574.25



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Paper Authors

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Adrian Millward-Sadler University of Applied Science, Graz

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Annette Casey Joanneum University of Applied Sciences


Frank Newman University of Graz

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Frank Newman is a senior lecturer at the Department of Translation Studies at the University of Graz in Graz, Austria. Frank has been teaching English, mainly writing skills, and American culture since 1984. He also teaches English for Engineers at the Graz University of Technology and was involved for many years in in-service teaching training in Austria and abroad. His current focus is using wikis in language teaching.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


This paper presents the preliminary results of a study of 88 students at the FH Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, Graz, from the department of Vehicle Technology studying for the degree of Automotive Engineering to determine their intelligence profiles according to the Theory of Multiple Intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner in 1983. A control group of 11 students from the Karl-Franzens University’s Institute for Theoretical und Applied Translation Studies were also analysed for control group purposes.

The intention of the study was to enable instructors in the Vehicle Technology department’s English as a Foreign Language (EFL) programme to tailor their course materials to the benefit of the year-groups concerned and thereby increase both student motivation and academic achievement in an area often perceived by students as either difficult or irrelevant in the confines of a technical degree.

The paper is divided into three basic sections. Firstly, department of Vehicle Technology and the degree of Automotive Engineering will be briefly outlined, including its curriculum, student year-group structure and the EFL programme which is part of the degree’s curriculum. Secondly, the original intentions and motivation behind the study will be described, including the situation concerning student motivation to study EFL, the principles of Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences and finally the reason why it was decided to employ an analysis tool to identify those intelligences. Thirdly, the results to date will be presented, including the method of data collection from the students, the findings in terms of their intelligence profiles and finally an analysis of the findings and their potential consequences in pedagogic application.

Department Curriculum & Year-Group Structure

The degree of Automotive Engineering offered by the department of Vehicle Technology covers eight semesters over a four year period for an undergraduate and is based on the principles of Project Based Learning (PBL), a theme which has been elaborated upon in previous ASEE conference papers (Bischof et al., 2007; Bratschitsch et al., 2009).

Briefly, the degree’s structure is broken into three distinct project phases, which take place in the 2nd and 3rd semesters (phase 1), the 5th and 6th semesters (phase 2) and the 7th semester (phase 3). In each phase, the subjects in the syllabus are designed to compliment each other and motivate student learning, and the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) programme is designed to support and correlate with each phase including the project objectives defined for the students.

Due to the rigorous nature of the degree programme curriculum (30 contact hours per week, plus individual study), students are divided into year-groups according to their starting year and are presented with a predetermined timetable. Students cannot select when a subject required for graduation may be taken, rather it is prescribed in the timetable, which is defined at the beginning of each semester. For example, a student graduating in 2010 would have begun their study in October 2006 and is therefore assigned to “year-group 2006” and follows this year-group’s timetable throughout the duration of their studies. A student may be required to repeat a year if examination results are unsatisfactory, in which case he or she moves into the subsequent year-group. Flexibility of subject choice is reflected within the projects undertaken by undergraduates in the 2nd through 6th semesters, the industrial placement (in the 7th semester) and finally in the choice of diploma thesis.

Millward-Sadler, A., & Casey, A., & Newman, F. (2010, June), Facilitating Engineering Students In The Language Classroom: Multiple Intelligences Profiles To Improve Foreign Language Competence Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15798

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015