Assisting tutors to develop their student's competence when working with complexity

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 8th Research in Engineering Education Symposium, REES 2019 - Making Connections, 2019, pp. 501 - 509
Issue Date:
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Copyright © 2019 Keith Willey and Tania Machet. Practising engineers are required to be independent learners, using their judgement and creativity to arrive at solutions to complex real-world problems. Research reports that these skills are currently underdeveloped in engineering students. This is not surprising given that most engineering students have undertaken mainly science and maths subjects in which they apply their mathematical knowledge to arrive at unique solutions. Conversely, in engineering practice, activities are rarely characterised by an ideal answer but rather are complex, requiring trade-offs and combining non-optimum solutions. Dealing with complex problems requires students to use judgement, subjectivity, and reasoning to make decisions instead of relying solely on the scientific evidence and facts. This challenges many students' feeling of competence and inhibits their learning motivation. In this paper, we report introducing student tutors to self-determination theory and a framework to provide a context and vocabulary to understand, reflect on and discuss learning when managing complexity to improve their students' learning and feelings of competence.
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