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Story Telling as an Effective Mean for Stimulating Students' Passion in Engineering Classes

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2014 ASEE International Forum


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 14, 2014

Start Date

June 14, 2014

End Date

June 14, 2014

Conference Session

Track 2 - Session 1

Tagged Topic

Faculty Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

20.36.1 - 20.36.8



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Paper Authors


Ibrahim Ali Olwi King Abdulaziz University

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Faculty member at the aeronautical engineering department since 1984. Had been in charge of gifted students programs for over a decade. His passion is simplifying science to the public. Currently is in charge of students innovations at the university level.

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Story Telling as an Effective Mean for Stimulating Students' Passion in Engineering ClassesStudents should learn in class the skill of coming up with solutions and the art of applying them.However, engineering education deals primarily with numbers. Therefore, many students act ascalculators. They lack passion for what they are being taught. The challenge is to create students'interest in the class, which directly reflects in achieving the course learning objectives.One of the best means to establish this is by telling stories. Since they deal with actual casesevery day, it is common practice to tell stories (cases) in medical education. It takes an extraeffort in the field of engineering education to come up with meaningful relevant stories,especially as many engineering faculty members do not have any professional experience otherthan teaching and conducting lab research.The main ingredient for effective story telling is being relevant to the course material andaddressing the future profession of the students. This may not be easily applicable in allengineering courses. It is evident that the "Engineering Design" course is one of the bestopportunities for employing story telling in classes, as it provides the atmosphere forbrainstorming, assessment, selection and implementation.This approach of introducing stories in the class was employed casually over the past years.However, during the last three semesters, it was consciously planned to have a story every class.By the end of each semester, a survey was conducted to assess the methodology employed. Atotal of eight sections were surveyed over the three semesters. The survey addressed the idea andits implementation through a detailed questionnaire of ten items. The results wereoverwhelmingly in favor of telling the stories. The item scoring highest was the statement"Stories that I heard add to my heuristics wisdom, and to my knowledge expertise, that I shallemploy in my life."Recently, the gender effect was also examined as there were two sections of female students, andtwo sections of male students this past semester. The females were more passionate about havingstories in the class.These results suggest the effectiveness of story-telling in achieving the following:  Demonstrating ambiguous issues in the subject, by putting in examples and discussing analogies.  Stimulating interest in the classes, as the community paying high tuition, is expecting more from the classes.  Building ethical values, where education is sought to build values in addition to knowledge.  Learning basic engineering principles intuitively, which are usually more effective than direct teaching of commands.

Olwi, I. A. (2014, June), Story Telling as an Effective Mean for Stimulating Students' Passion in Engineering Classes Paper presented at 2014 ASEE International Forum, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--17199

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