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Promoting Learner Autonomy In Engineering

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Collaborative & New Efforts in Engineering Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1207.1 - 12.1207.11

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Paper Authors


Michael Bramhall Sheffield Hallam University

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Mike is Head of Learning, Teaching and Assessment at Sheffield Hallam University's Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences. He is the Associate Director of the Centre for Promoting Learner Autonomy at Sheffield Hallam. He is also the Associate Director of the UK Centre for Materials Education at Liverpool University, which is part of the UK Higher Education Academy.

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Keith Radley Sheffield Hallam University

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Keith is a Lecturer in Curriculum Innovation at Sheffield Hallam University,(specialising in media and resources)in the Learning and Teaching Institute. Keith has 25 years experience in video and media production. His current role is to promote and facilitate innovation in the curriculum, working with teaching staff in the use of digital video and media to enhance the student learning experience.

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

Promoting Learner Autonomy in Engineering


This paper will report on a current project that is being conducted within one of the UK Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs): ‘The Centre for Promoting Learner Autonomy’, at Sheffield Hallam University. The paper will outline the role of the CETLs within the UK, and then will go on to discuss the learning, teaching and assessment methods used on a first year engineering undergraduate module, in order to promote learner autonomy within the students. The module, ‘Materials, Manufacturing and Environmental Engineering’, has traditionally been taught over 2 semesters through a series of keynote lectures, followed by seminars and laboratory practical classes. Previously, case study work was undertaken by the students in semester 2 of the module; however, this did not develop autonomous learning in an effective way. The new assignment project work in semester 2 provided an opportunity for students to work in groups. Each group either undertook investigations into ‘engineering disaster management’, or investigated ‘materials and manufacturing processes’. The result was an end of module ‘student conference’, where each group presented a technical paper. This paper will discuss development of the learning scenarios and the introduction of video and media to stimulate and present the learning. A questionnaire was completed by the students before they undertook these new assignments. This was then followed up by individual interviews with students, in order to ascertain how the students had developed within the module. An analysis of the results of these investigations is presented in the paper.


In 2005 the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) launched a £315 million programme of national Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs)1. The creation of 74 CETLs was a result of a national bidding process. The CETL initiative has two main aims: to reward excellent teaching practice, and to further invest in that practice so that CETLs funding delivers substantial benefits to students, teachers and institutions. Funding of CETLs totals £315 million over five years from 2005-06 to 2009-10. Each CETL receives recurrent funding, ranging from £200,000 to £500,000 per annum for five years, and a capital sum ranging from £0.8 million to £2 million. This initiative represents HEFCE's largest ever single funding initiative in teaching and learning.

The Centre for Promoting Learner Autonomy (CPLA) at Sheffield Hallam University looks to the future and the knowledge economy in promoting self-efficacy through a partnership between large numbers of students, staff, and all those involved in supporting learning. CPLA empowers students at Sheffield Hallam University and beyond to acquire responsibility for their learning, to work in partnerships with tutors and other students. We want learners to demonstrate transformative approaches to constructing their own knowledge and integrate into academic communities. CPLA brings together excellence in developing learner autonomy, pedagogic innovation, and staff development for the benefit of the sector 2.

The characteristics of an autonomous learner are:

• Critical reflection

Bramhall, M., & Radley, K. (2007, June), Promoting Learner Autonomy In Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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