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Learning for Doing: Student Engagement as a Necessity for Practice.

Biomedical Sciences Research Institute Computer Science Research Institute Environmental Sciences Research Institute Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials Research Institute

McLernon, Tim (2011) Learning for Doing: Student Engagement as a Necessity for Practice. In: 17th International Conference on Engineering Education; Engineering Sustainability for a Global Economy., Waterfront Hall, Belfast, N. Ireland.. International Conference on Engineering Education (ICEE). Vol 192 8 pp. [Conference contribution]

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URL: http://icee2011.ulster.ac.uk/

Abstract

The impetus for this study was instigated by recent comments from some employers of graduates in the built environment discipline during a discussion on the necessity for education for sustainable development for participation in a global economy. The comments inferred that graduates “cannot do anything and we have to train them”. Further investigations suggested that a reason for this asserted lack of practical competence may be linked to inadequate student engagement during the three years at university. The thesis behind this study was derived from these further investigations: it is that students do not engage sufficiently with their studies to enable them, on graduation, to ‘hit the ground running’. Student engagement is a term that may be interpreted in several different ways and may project different meanings. Trowler and Trowler (2010) conducted a student engagement literature review that presented a “matrix of areas covered by the term ‘student engagement’”. They also identified “3 axes along which student engagement literature can be located, viz. individual student learning, structure and process, and identity”. ‘Engagement’ for the purposes of this study followed the axis of individual student learning. In addition, ‘engagement’ was qualified and separated according to the dimensions proposed by Trowler (2010), drawing on the work of others and identified as: behavioural engagement, affective engagement and cognitive engagement. The purpose of the study was to derive and analyse the factors that contribute to justification for this thesis with a view to the ultimate construction of a reflective tool with which students may self-assess their own engagement. Data for the study were collected from records, by observant participation with students, supported by individual conversations and focus group sessions with a sample of students from the built environment disciplines. These data were analysed in conjunction with data obtained from six tutors on built environment programmes and a framework of findings was built. The conclusions demonstrate that engagement could be improved along the axis of individual student learning and according to the three dimensions of engagement. Whether improvement of such engagement would lead to improved practical competencies upon graduation was not empirically included in the study but such conjecture should lead to healthy discussion at the conference. Discussion of this paper at the conference will inform the construction of a reflective tool with which students may self-assess their own engagement.

Item Type:Conference contribution (Paper)
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment
Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment > School of the Built Environment
Research Institutes and Groups:Built Environment Research Institute
Built Environment Research Institute > Centre for Research on Property and Planning (RPP)
ID Code:20080
Deposited By:Dr Tim McLernon
Deposited On:05 Oct 2011 14:45
Last Modified:05 Oct 2011 14:45

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