June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.587.1 - 15.587.15
A High-school Teacher’s Perspective of First-year Engineering
This paper reports the observations of a high-school teacher who spent a full academic year immersed in the University of Auckland’s first-year engineering programme. Few formal requirements were imposed on the teacher; by choice he attended the lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions of several engineering courses. He also enrolled in two university courses in order to learn social-sciences research methods. The teacher’s focus was on the peer assessment, problem-solving and feedback used in lectures and tutorials to promote effective learning and encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Models (conceptual frameworks) were then constructed to reflect the actions of students and the interactions students have with their lecturers and tutors. The result was a comprehensive view of what is expected of first-year engineering students from a high school teacher’s perspective. This view, together with the data on which it was founded, is outlined in the paper.
All first-year engineering courses face multiple challenges: to showcase engineering attractively so that students wish to continue in the discipline, to prepare students adequately for higher-level courses, and to bridge the gap between high school and university successfully. This last is a particularly difficult challenge because it involves both academic and pastoral issues and, further, the university lecturers may have only limited knowledge of the type of education currently provided by their contributory high schools. To properly appreciate the difficulties students face in bridging the gap between high school and university, a university lecturer would need to spend time immersed in a high school, or a high-school teacher would need to spend time immersed in a university. Such immersion, while most valuable, is rarely possible.
The Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) manages an Awarded Teacher Fellowship Scheme which enables experienced school teachers to take a break of up to one year from their teaching duties and instead pursue some other approved activity. The first author of this paper was such an experienced teacher, a Head of Physics Department at a large and well- regarded high school. The RSNZ provided funds that allowed his school to employ a replacement teacher while he continued to receive his teacher’s salary. In his year as Teacher Fellow he was mentored by the second author of this paper, an academic at the University of Auckland, who himself had also previously been a Head of Physics Department at another large and well-regarded high school. This academic, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a special research interest in the transition from high school to first-year engineering.
This paper reports on the observations of and the conclusions reached by the first author as he spent a full academic year immersed in the University of Auckland’s first-year engineering programme. Few formal requirements were imposed; by choice the teacher sat in on the lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions of several engineering courses. He also chose to enrol in two university courses in order to learn social-sciences research methods that he applied during his year at the university. While the teacher did involve himself in several courses, there was a particular involvement in the first-year engineering course, Electrical and Digital Systems, coordinated by his mentor. Consequently this paper focuses on that course.
Paton, R., & Smaill, C., & Rowe, G. (2010, June), First Year Engineering From The Perspective Of A High School Teacher. Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16308
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