Integration of Generic Skills in Engineering Education: Increased Student Engagement Using a CDIO Approach

Integration of Generic Skills in Engineering Education: Increased Student Engagement Using a CDIO Approach

T. Mejtoft, J. Vesterberg (2017).  Integration of Generic Skills in Engineering Education: Increased Student Engagement Using a CDIO Approach. 10.

Engineering education with a close connection to future profession is important and popular in many parts of the world. To be able to work as an engineer and be qualified for a future career, not only the disciplinary knowledge is important for building professional skills but also inter-disciplinary and generic skills (e.g. Mechefske et al., 2005; Schwieler, 2007). The CDIO model (Crawley, et al., 2007) provides a broad base for the generic skills that can be expected by both current and future engineers and with the right design and implementation, a wide range of the personal and interpersonal skills stated in the CDIO syllabus can be met. Furthermore, integration of such skills in disciplinary courses might increase students’ motivation and give disciplinary knowledge more realistic contexts (Mejtoft, 2016). This case study illustrates and analyzes how setting up a touch-point between two courses in a project work can push the education further towards the ideas of CDIO. The paper seek to present pros and cons integration of generic skills in disciplinary projects and is based on surveys and interviews with students and teachers. Using project-based learning something that has been deemed appropriate and successful in engineering education (De Graaff & Kolmos, 2003; Mills & Treagust, 2003).

The paper is based on an action based research approach implementing changes in two courses on the Master of Science in Interaction Technology study program at Umeå University. The courses are “Project management” (7.5 ECTS) at the department of applied physics and electronics and the disciplinary course “Interactivity in smart environments” (7.5 ECTS) at the department of computer science. The implementation is based on using the project on the course as the starting point and basis of project management on the course “Project management”. This was a change compared to previous years when a “fake project” without disciplinary connection had been used on the project management course.

Even though the students’ motivation for acquiring generic skills, such as project management sills, one thing that has been raised in previous evaluations is that the lack of realistic situation in the project work. The results from this project show that integration of generic skills in disciplinary courses instead of reading general courses with generic skills, increase the students’ engagement and motivation of learning project management and interpersonal skills according to the CDIO. The result shows that well-implemented changes to the courses and creating touch-points between them, have led to an environment of increased personal and interpersonal skills for the students. Hence, by working with cases and projects that is closely connected to the students’ discipline, their inner motivation, need and will to increase their learning in adjacent areas, such as project management, increase. This paper further discusses the challenges for teacher in integrating generic skills in disciplinary courses and combining different courses with the aim of increasing students’ inner motivation.

Proceedings of the 13th International CDIO Conference in Calgary, Canada, June 18-22 2017

Authors (New): 
Thomas Mejtoft
Jimmy Vesterberg
Umeå University, Sweden
Project management
project work
CDIO Standard 1
CDIO Standard 2
CDIO Standard 3
CDIO Standard 5
CDIO Standard 8
CDIO Standard 11
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