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Professional Perspectives: Electronic Engineering. Paul Spencer Dean of School, Electronic Engineering Kal Winston* Adviser, Study Skills Centre. Initial Action. M eetings between E ngineering and SSC staff Exam Review workshop with students Examination of sample dissertations & reports

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professional perspectives electronic engineering

Professional Perspectives: Electronic Engineering

Paul Spencer

Dean of School, Electronic Engineering

Kal Winston*

Adviser, Study Skills Centre

initial action
Initial Action
  • Meetings between Engineering and SSC staff
  • Exam Review workshop with students
  • Examination of sample dissertations & reports
  • Difficulties appear to include
    • Study skills, approaches to learning
    • Critical thinking
    • Academic literacy
    • Application of ideas
    • Following instructions
    • Self-discipline
professional perspectives
Professional Perspectives
  • 10-credit first year, first-term module
  • 12 x 2-hour sessions
  • Aims:
    • Assist students with their approach to other modules, and help them develop the skills needed to succeed in Electronic Engineering courses.
    • Provide students with transferable skills needed for employment as engineering professionals.
group individual
Group/Individual
  • Students randomly assigned to a small group of 4 students, work together throughout the module.
  • Assess both individual and group work.
  • Groups meet between classes (minimum of four meetings), members take turns recording minutes.
weekly workshops on
Weekly workshops on…
  • Time management
  • Critical questioning
  • Working with lectures
  • Explaining terminology
  • Library resources
  • Referencing and plagiarism
  • Exam techniques
  • Writing minutes
  • Data analysis
    • limits, scales, errors, dimensional analysis
  • Report writing – structure, writers’ moves
  • Draft reports
    • Peer-assessment
    • Formative feedback
  • Presentation skills
    • Creating and using rubrics
assessment 1 project
Assessment 1, Project
  • Project Report, 2500 words - 40%
  • 10% for submission of draft report
  • 30% for final report
  • Groups select their own project topics.
  • Each group crafts a clear research question, which is then divided into one sub-question per group member.
  • Most sessions include work contributing towards final project.
assessment 1 project1
Assessment 1, Project
  • Week 3, groups submit project brief, outlining their project, stating their research questions.
  • Each group member writes a report on his/her chosen sub-question.
  • Week 7, individuals submit draft version of their individual reports
    • Grade each other’s drafts using rubric
    • General feedback on common errors
  • Final versions of the report submitted 3 weeks later.
assessment 2 portfolio
Assessment 2, Portfolio

20% of module grade, tasks based on weekly workshops

  • Build ‘generic skills’ and skills for project
    • Time management
      • module assessments,project milestones
    • Asking questions
      • explore lectures, create research questions
    • Define and explain terminology
      • from lectures, key project concepts
    • Library resources, references, plagiarism, paraphrasing
      • summary of and references for two scientific reports
    • Data analysis assignments
      • feel for equations, data presentation
    • Minutesfrom group meetings, contributions to discussion forums, module reflection, Peerwise
assessment 2 portfolio1
Assessment 2, Portfolio

20% of module grade, tasks based on weekly workshops

  • Build ‘generic skills’ and skills for project
    • Time management
      • module assessments,project milestones
    • Asking questions
      • explore lectures, create research questions
    • Define and explain terminology
      • from lectures, key project concepts
    • Library resources, references, plagiarism, paraphrasing
      • summary of and references for two scientific reports
    • Data analysis assignments
      • feel for equations, data presentation
    • Minutesfrom group meetings, contributions to discussion forums, module reflection, Peerwise
assessment 3 presentation
Assessment 3, Presentation
  • Oral presentation – 20%
  • 10-minute group presentation
  • Synthesis of members’ project work.
  • Rubric developed in class
  • Groups and teachers mark each presentation, averaged for group score.
assessment 4 data analysis test
Assessment 4, Data Analysis test
  • In-Class Test – 20%
  • Based on Data Analysis Techniques sessions
    • order of magnitude estimations
    • taking limits
    • dimensional analysis
    • systematic and random errors
    • graphical display methods.
successes
Successes
  • Better understanding of students needs, strengths and weaknesses
  • Inter-departmental collaboration – design and delivery of module
  • Lively, interactive class discussions
  • Opportunity to give feedback on students’ writing
  • Good outcomes for:
    • referencing and plagiarism
    • note taking
    • revision advice
    • group presentations
challenges and solutions 1
Challenges and Solutions, 1
  • Variable attendance/participation
    • Late admittance to course
    • 9am Thursday (Weds p.m. free)
  • Affected group work
  • Non-completion of portfolio tasks, so some students missed incremental build-up towards project
  • Next time: less reliance on groups, stricter deadlines for portfolio tasks
challenges and solutions 2
Challenges and Solutions, 2
  • Overly ambitious goals – data analysis
  • Presented too many ideas
  • Students’ understanding weaker than expected (e.g. derivative as rate of change)
  • Poor test performance
  • Next time: restrict to narrower range (limits, units, scales), more examples and practice in class
    • tie-in with critique of journal article
challenges and solutions 3
Challenges and Solutions, 3
  • Presentations – group members not all engaged, some free-loading
  • Related to project – if that was poor, adversely affected presentations
  • Next time: in pairs, shorter presentation, explain a key engineering concept, and how it can be applied in practice
    • builds on prior exercise on explaining terminology
challenges 4
Challenges, 4
  • Overly ambitious project
  • Many had never read a journal article, much less critically appraised one
  • Too much choice for project
  • Too long
  • Underestimated problems with basic writing skills
  • A few great projects, a number of awful ones
solutions 4
Solutions, 4
  • Smaller, more focused tasks, more tightly related to needs in other modules
  • Better balance between learner autonomy and teacher control
  • More time on finding, reading and critical analysis of specific journal articles
  • Final project: write up a technical report from lab work – core skill, reinforces links with other modules
next iteration of module
Next iteration of module
  • Portfolio – 40%; fewer tasks, heavier weighting, tighter deadlines
  • Critical analysis of journal article – 15%; less choice, more focused guidance
  • Technical lab report – 30%; more relevant, less choice, lower weighting
  • Oral presentation – 15%; more relevant, smaller group, lower weighting
lessons learned
Lessons learned
  • Module develops/improves with greater understanding of students’ abilities and needs
  • Fewer goals, clearly linked, more thoroughly taught and practiced
  • Better balance between teacher directive and student choice
  • Collaboration between discipline school and central learning development unit
    • shared module design and delivery can be effective
kal winston study skills centre bangor university k winston@bangor ac uk
Kal Winston, Study Skills Centre, Bangor Universityk.winston@bangor.ac.uk