First Evolution of the Introduction to Engineering course

First Evolution of the Introduction to Engineering course

V. Taajamaa, X. Guo, T. Westerlund, H. Tenhunen, T. Salakoski (2014).  First Evolution of the Introduction to Engineering course. 11.

Engineering education in the department of Information Technology at the University of Turku, Finland, follows the CDIO framework. In this paper, we examine the first evolution of the Introduction to Engineering course (ITE). The course is based on the CDIO standard no. 4, and it is the very first course for the engineering students when they start their studies.

The background and structure for the course will be presented as well as the course’s intended learning outcomes and their evolution from the previous year. Finally, implications and ideas for the future evolutions for the course will be discussed. The course’s alignment to the whole curriculum will also be addressed. Key research questions are how the students and the teaching team have understood the course’s learning outcomes, and how the teaching team has been able to adopt the learning outcomes into the course structure. In addition, we will discuss the learning enhancement process of the course itself.

The research material has been gathered from the two consecutive courses during December 2012 – December 2013. The research material comprises student feedback in a form of class-room interaction, study journals and feedback survey after the course. In addition to student feedback, the teaching team’s experiences will also be reflected. The questions used in both surveys and study journals were based on intended learning outcomes and partly on CDIO standard no. 4. The changes in the survey questions have been kept minimal in order to increase the uniformity of data. The analysis method follows the grounded theory methodology.

According to the previous results, the ITE course has been a success from its very beginning. The intended learning outcomes have been achieved, and the students regard the course as a good introduction to engineering. The results from this longitudinal research suggest that the evolution of the course is going to the right direction because the students find the new exercises and the evolved course structure beneficial to their learning and engineering studies. The most promising results arise from the group work which was changed from big groups into smaller ones: from 8 to 9 students per group to 4 students per group.

According to the new results, it is important that also in the following ITE courses the substance and knowledge of embedded electronics and software (i.e., programming) is kept and further developed. The key issue for future courses is to further integrate the disciplinary knowledge with other substance learning such as systems thinking, problem–solving, communication skills, group work and societal understanding of the importance of engineering.

Proceedings of the 10th International CDIO Conference, Barcelona, Spain, June 15-19 2014

Authors (New): 
Ville Taajamaa
Xing Guo
Tomi Westerlund
Hannu Tenhunen
Tapio Salakoski
University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Fudan University, China
Freshmen course
hands-on learning
Intended Learning Outcomes
Problem solving
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