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100 fears of solitude: working on individual academic engineering projects remotely

Hush, Michael (2015). 100 fears of solitude: working on individual academic engineering projects remotely. In: Proceedings of Seventh International Symposium on Project Approaches in Engineering Education, Aalborg Universitetsforlag, Aalborg, Denmark, pp. 80–86.

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The UK’s Open University has been one of the leading open distance learning universities for over 40 years. It currently has around 200,000 students. Its engineering programme supports several higher education qualifications. Central to them is the BEng(Hons). This general engineering qualification is partially accredited for Chartered Engineer by several UK professional engineering institutions and fulfils an important role in the provision of engineering higher education in the UK. One of its final modules is The Engineering Project (T450) which has been taken by over 2000 students since its introduction in 2004. It is now in its last presentation with over 400 students registered.
The project is intended to be open-ended, authentic and largely selected by the student. The module acts as the principal synoptic assessment for the BEng(Hons) where students are expected to bring together their learning from throughout their undergraduate studies. The project and assessment are based on the requirements in UK-SPEC, UK Standard of Professional Engineering Competences (Engineering Council, 2014) in particular an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply and integrate knowledge and understanding of other engineering disciplines to support study of their own engineering discipline. It is now being rewritten ready for a first presentation in February 2016. This paper reviews the life of the current module; its structure, successes and lessons before looking at the options for its replacement, T452.

The approach of the module is constructivist with an emphasis on reflective practice. However, there is little opportunity, either in terms of time or facilities for students to work together. Instead, the close participation of the tutor is intended to provide guidance as well as supporting the student. One element of the review is to address the solitude experienced by many students. This solitude is not autonomy and undermines the importance of interdependent learning.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 The Author
ISBN: 87-7112-305-9, 978-87-7112-305-0
Keywords: final year undergraduate projects; capstone engineering projects; open distance learning
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 47277
Depositing User: Michael Hush
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2016 09:23
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 14:32
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