Evaluation of residential school activity ‘Product re-engineering for enhanced end-of-life performance

Endean, Mark; Clay, Kath and Burnley, Stephen (2012). Evaluation of residential school activity ‘Product re-engineering for enhanced end-of-life performance. In: Engineering Education 2012, 18-20 Sep 2012, Coventry.

URL: http://cede.lboro.ac.uk/ee2012/papers/ee2012_submi...


Starting from the year 2010, students of The Open University who enrol on the residential school module Engineering in Action have undertaken a team project focused on end-of-life product design. This highlights the engineer's role in promoting sustainable futures, which is now a feature of all engineering programmes. The team aspect of the project also provides an important opportunity for skills development for students who normally work alone and at a distance.

A key aspect of the design of the activity is the use of genuine end-of-life domestic products to engage the students’ interest and motivate them to find out more about the product by linking their investigation to their everyday experience.

Small project grant funding was obtained in 2010 from the UK Centre for Materials Education (UKCME) to study the effectiveness of the activity in terms of student and staff satisfaction and the quality of the student learning experience. The 2010 cohort of students (around 150 in number) were invited to complete evaluation questionnaires and to volunteer for a telephone interview. A total of 126 completed student questionnaires were received and five students were subsequently interviewed. Questionnaires were also distributed to 16 tutors and four were completed and returned. Further tutor feedback was obtained from direct discussions during the residential school.

The outcome of the evaluation was overwhelmingly supportive of the design and delivery of the new team project. Suggestions for improvements were received but none requiring significant alteration of the project. Many of these were implemented for the 2011 presentation.

The success of the project may be partly due to contextual factors, such as student demographics, the role of residential schools within the Open University programme and the timescale over which the project is delivered. This possibility remains to be tested by other educators.

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