Turning tedious to terrific: an authentic learning experience to engage engineering students in project management

Tuladhar, Rabin, Pandey, Govinda R., Turner, Phil, and Christie, Daniel (2014) Turning tedious to terrific: an authentic learning experience to engage engineering students in project management. In: Proceedings of the 25th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education. From: AAEE 2014: 25th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, 8-10 December 2014, Wellington, New Zealand.

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Background: Project management is often perceived as "a boring and tedious subject" by undergraduate engineering students as the traditional ways of teaching the subject often lack context and relevance to practice. Nevertheless, soft skills such as project management, leadership and communication are very important graduate attributes which are often a core part of the duties performed by graduate engineers. Non-traditional teaching pedagogies such as project and problem based learning are found effective in developing such competencies.

Purpose: This paper discusses an innovative approach to enhance student engagement in an engineering project management subject by using mixed-mode teaching which includes face to face lectures and active student-centred project-based learning through an authentic industry project. The main objectives of embedding an industry-based project in the subject are to give students an exposure to real world challenges and opportunities to implement the project management skills and tools they learnt in the classroom in a real-life scenario. Having a real industry project also helps to add context and authenticity, which in turn helps to keep students engaged and motivated.

Design/method: As a part of the project management subject, an industry project based on an actual ongoing project was embedded in EG3000 (Engineering Project Management) at James Cook University. The class was divided into groups of 9-10 students, each group consisting of students from different engineering disciplines. Each group of students represented a project management team to manage and execute the project. As a part of this project, student teams were required to conduct planning and feasibility analysis and define project scope, liaise with key stakeholders to identify their needs and to report status of the project; conduct risk analysis; consider sustainability aspects during the project delivery; and apply appropriate project management tools and concepts for performance evaluation, budgeting, auditing and successful delivery of the project.

Results: Mixed-mode teaching which included face to face lectures plus project-based learning through an authentic industry project significantly improved student engagement in the undergraduate third year engineering project management subject. Involvement of industry in delivering the project briefing and a site visit added authenticity and context to the project.

Conclusions: Instead of the traditional "chalk and talk" pedagogy, a mixed-mode of delivery was successfully trialled in the undergraduate project management subject using a combination of in-class lectures and student-centred project-based learning. An authentic large scale industry project used in the subject gave students invaluable opportunities to apply project management knowledge and skills in a realworld scenario and to appreciate the challenges they will face as graduate engineers.

Item ID: 37127
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-0-473-30428-7
Keywords: project based learning, authentic industry project, project management
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Copyright © 2014 Rabin Tuladhar, Govinda R Pandey, Phil Turner, Daniel Christie: The authors assign to AAEE and educational non-profit institutions a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The authors also grant a non-exclusive licence to AAEE to publish this document in full on the World Wide Web (prime sites and mirrors), on Memory Sticks, and in printed form within the AAEE 2014 conference proceedings. Any other usage is prohibited without the express permission of the authors.

Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2015 22:14
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development @ 30%
13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy @ 70%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930201 Pedagogy @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930203 Teaching and Instruction Technologies @ 50%
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