Why do project based learning
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Why do project based learning?. Professor John Dickens Department of Civil & Building Engineering, Loughborough University. Outline. Why I use Project Based Learning Teaching Civil Engineering Design What benefits for students?. Why Project Based Learning?.

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Why do project based learning l.jpg

Why do project based learning?

Professor John Dickens

Department of Civil & Building Engineering, Loughborough University

Outline l.jpg

  • Why I use Project Based Learning

  • Teaching Civil Engineering Design

  • What benefits for students?

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Why Project Based Learning?

  • Worked in Civil Engineering for 11 years mainly the Design & Maintenance of Bridges.

  • Work in the design office is project based

  • Junior engineers are mentored by more senior colleagues in a team environment

  • Learning by doing

  • If graduate engineers learn this way why not students?

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Why involve industry?

  • Exposing students to contact with industry enriches student learning

  • Requirement of accreditation by UK professional bodies

  • Benefits to all 3 main stakeholders:

    • Student

    • Academic

    • Industry practitioner

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Teamwork Design Project ( 25% of third year MEng)


To give students an appreciation of the complete design cycle through the vehicle of a real design project

Each student will work as part of a group to produce a design for the …

the redevelopment of a brownfield site in central Birmingham

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  • Teaching Civil Engineering Design through design projects set by industry since the mid 1980s

  • Started with an option limited to 4 groups of 4

  • Opened to all final year BEng Students in 1995

    • Cut down version for large numbers

  • Reverted to longer 30 credits version for the MEng in 1999 numbers have increased from 12 to 50

  • Groups of 4 students (5 since 07-08)

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Value of Industry Link

  • Importance of real project data to work with

  • Background data provided by company

  • Unique input from industrial practitioner including assessment

  • Provides ideal vehicle for developing employability skills

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Students will be required to meet the following objectives.

  • The definition of a problem

  • The identification of solutions

  • Evaluation of alternatives to reach preferred solution

  • The production of a detailed design and associated drawings

  • The production of Tender Documents

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In order to meet the objectives students will need to develop the following skills

  • Effective group working

  • Effective communication, written and oral

  • Working to deadlines

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Assessed Group submissions

The Brief - Defines the problem (10%)

  • Produce a report for the design brief through a formal meeting with the client, informal consultation with staff and any other resources they wish to use.

    Design Options – Creative formulation of solutions (30%)

  • Each group will submit a formal options report .

  • There will be a formal presentation of the options report to the client team. This is recorded on video and students will assess their own performance, that of their group and of two other groups at a later session

    Detailed Calculations – Applying broad range of existing and new knowledge (35%)

  • Each group will be required to produce detailed design of their preferred scheme for which will include design calculations and associated drawings, a method statement, construction programme and Risk assessment. Must include sustainability issues.

  • There will be a presentation of the final design to the client team.

    Tender Documents (15%)

  • Each Group will be required to produce Contract Documents and Quantities for part of their preferred scheme

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Assessed submissions

Individual Report (10%)

  • Describe which items of work they were specifically responsible

  • Group organisation & function relating it to teamwork & leadership theories covered on separate module

  • Criticism of how the module was run

  • Peer assessment with justification (webPA)

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My view of the student experience

  • Fear of the blank canvas at the start of the module

  • Students desire to be given examples of previous work

  • Growing realisation that they have to organise their own groups work and set their own standard

  • Tensions in groups where individual standards differ

  • Response to feedback and marks for the early submissions

  • The increasingly professional way they use me and the external client to seek information and guidance

  • The ‘eureka’ moments when students realise they can apply knowledge learnt in other modules to an unfamiliar problem

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My view of the student experience (2)

  • The group insights given in the individual report

  • The improvement in the individual reports when the Teamwork & Leadership module was introduced.

  • Student’s pride at the end in the substantial output produced

  • The different perspective the external client brings to assessment.

  • The real project with an external client motivates the students

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