Critical Conversations: How Collaborative Learning Activities Can Prepare Students for Structural Engineering Practice

University of Technology, Sydney
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, 2010, pp. 468 - 476
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Junior structural engineers rarely work alone. Their design calculations are usually peer reviewed, and they may be involved in reviewing other engineersâ designs. They are also likely to have to articulate their design decisions to their supervisor or the project team, if not the client. At the University of Technology, Sydney the authors redesigned the asssessment tasks in the subject Concrete Design to be collaborative learning-oriented tasks that provide an opportunity for students to develop and practice the skills they will need to interact with other professionals in the workplace and continue learning during their career. We theorised that allowing students to collaborate during quizzes and a project would make these activities more learning-oriented, in that students would actively learn from each other while completing their assessment. Data from various sources were collected to examine the impact of this collaborative assessment on student learning. These sources included instructor observation, analysis of student responses to a reflection activity, student surveys and student results. Students reported that not only were these activities enjoyable but they also significantly improved their learning.
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