June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
12.1568.1 - 12.1568.9
Using technology to support engineering laboratory studies
Learning requires activities that facilitate exploration, personal (first-hand) experience as well as provide opportunities for students to develop and re-conceptualise their growing knowledge. Laboratory studies present an ideal opportunity for such personal action and reflection whilst also bringing some of the classroom activity to life. Although carefully considered laboratory studies have the potential to be highly educationally effective, issues arise with the associated burden these studies place on teachers. This is particularly evident in the United Kingdom with growing student numbers and an often associated reduction in teacher-student contact time. In the extreme, concerns over the low resource efficiency may dominate such that some laboratory studies may be withdrawn from the curriculum.
The approach demonstrated in this paper seeks to redress that issue and utilises computing technology and students themselves to increase the resource efficiency and enhance the educationally effectiveness experience.
Learning is not a spectator sport – it requires activities that facilitate exploration, personal experience as well as provide opportunities for students to develop and re-conceptualise their growing knowledge. Such principles are articulated in instruments suggesting how we might think about learning, see for example Kolb’s experiential learning cycle(1), as well as in suggested principles for good practice in undergraduate education(2).
Learning is also enhanced when it is a situated activity such that it presents an opportunity for the students to see, explore, and gain first-hand experiences. Far too often, however, didactic teaching transmits to the learners a second-hand view of knowledge. A view that is held by the teachers or conventional wisdom. Whilst the transmission of knowledge may be highly efficient the views are often too abstract and have limited relevance to the learners’ current conceptions or knowledge base.
Laboratory studies, however, present an ideal opportunity for personal action and reflection. By definition, they also provide an opportunity for students to gain the much sought after first-hand experience whilst also bringing some of the classroom knowledge to life.
Whilst carefully considered laboratory studies have the potential to be highly educationally effective issues arise with the associated burden these studies place on teachers. This is particularly evident in the United Kingdom with growing student numbers and an often attendant reduction in teacher-student contact time. For cases where laboratory studies are unfortunately seen as a value-added activity, rather than an integral part of engineering curricula, concerns over the low resource efficiency often dominate such that some laboratory studies are withdrawn from the teaching plan. Such decisions, it is argued, will be detrimental to the undergraduates learning experience.
This paper demonstrates two approaches to redress the issue. In the first example technology is developed to better support the resource efficiency whereas in the second example
Russell, M. (2007, June), Using Technology To Support Engineering Laboratory Studies Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2000
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