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Situated Learning And Motivation Strategies To Improve Cognitive Learning In Ce

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.362.1 - 2.362.13



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Paper Authors

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Alexandre Cabral

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Rolland Viau

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Denis Bédard

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


Alexandre Cabral, Rolland Viau and Denis Bédard Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada


This papers describes the results obtained and the main observations made during a year long research project whose main purpose was to integrate situated learning and some motivational tools in an undergraduate civil engineering course (Soil Mechanics I). New teaching material was developed almost from scratch around a main theme and several secondary themes. Oriented discussions and exercises were prepared in order to help the students acknowledge the new professional skills they had acquired. The motivational tools served as means to create a better teaching and learning environment in the classroom and in the laboratory. The response of the students was constantly monitored. The results show that the various activities strategically planned to motivate the students to become active learners and to situate them in the context of the practice of Civil Engineering had a positive effect on several aspects, including their perception the of the significance of the knowledge being acquired, of the reality of their future profession and of the importance of the tools they might need. Another significant increase relates to the perception the students ended up with of their capacity to transfer the knowledge acquired to other situations.

1. General problem

Two of the challenges facing higher education, in particular professional education, are the capacity these programs have (1) to foster the students’ ability to use their newly acquired knowledge in other contexts such as practice training sessions and (2) to maintain the students’ motivation throughout each course. The programs should aim at encouraging the students to draw links between what they are learning in class and the more applied context of the profession for which they are being prepared. Many professors in universities and colleges orient their instruction so that the students achieve such a transfer of information. However, in regards to student learning and to capacity to use this knowledge, comparing goals to outcomes in terms of teaching does not present an encouraging perspective, especially in the context of professional training (Bédard and Turgeon, 1995). Higher education today is also struggling with students’ loss of motivation and engagement in the parts of the curriculum which tend to present a more abstract set of knowledge that cannot easily be linked to the profession. Students generally enter university programs with high expectations about the usefulness of the knowledge that will be acquired. What the students are offered in the first place are courses presenting abstract concepts, generally given in a lecturing format. Therefore, they tend to disengage from learning activities and from their study.

Cabral, A., & Viau, R., & Bédard, D. (1997, June), Situated Learning And Motivation Strategies To Improve Cognitive Learning In Ce Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6784

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