FROM INTEGRATED TO INTERNATIONAL MASTERS IN ENGINEERING: THE INCREASE OF HETEROGENEITY
Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:This work analyses the difficulties in some countries in Europe were the integrated masters of five or six academic years were migrated to degree plus master after the Bologna process. Often the master years of the former integrated master are oriented to international students and the lecturers find a high degree of diversity not present in the degree (in local language and targeted to local students). A case belonging to a master in computer networks is discussed together with some facts and discussion.
Some countries in Europe offered integrated masters before Bologna . In Spain, integrated masters consisted of five years and occasionally students joined in from other faculties. Such students a) needed to move their residence or b) joined the fourth year after a degree. At the UPC these careers were lectured in Spanish. After the Bologna process, the integrated masters were converted to degree plus master.
2 Hererogeneity is a fact
In  the authors describe the heterogeneity found in a group belonging to a master lectured in English. This heterogeneity is desirable since it brings values. However, there is a negative part: the class is split and grades are a mix of two groups instead of showing the typical Gauss-bell behaviour. A key question is why this bimodal (split) behaviour is found here and not in similar masters lectured in countries used to this model.
3 Reducing heterogeneity before starting
The main problem is the diversity of backgrounds.
• Electronics vs. computer.
• Registered in different masters.
• Practical vs. theoretical.
3.1 Selection Process
All except the last of these conditions could have been reduced with an adequate selection. However, most new masters in countries with a tradition of integrated masters do not receive a high number of applications and this makes difficult to the proper selection of students.
3.2 Number of students
The number of students registered in masters at the UPC is low in most cases. The number of students per class at the master level ranges from 10 to 20 in most cases. With these sample sizes the statistics do not tend to the theoretical distributions.
4 Reducing the heterogeneity during the course
The mentioned facts pose challenges to the lecturers. The goal of the course must be questioned: if it is important to get a minimum homogeneity this must be done soon. Without it, any academic goal is difficult to achieve. Techniques such as Project Based Learning and Cooperative Learning are not thought for heterogeneous groups.
Methods to improve the homogeneity are common in earlier educational stages where heterogeneity is prevalent  and studies are widely available .
 Barceló-Arroyo, F., Martín Escalona, I. “Study of the results in a heterogeneous group for a course on computer networks.”, IEEE Proc. of the 15th International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (ICL-2012), Villach, Austria, 2012.
 The Bologna Declaration, Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education, 19 June 1999
 Casey, L. et al. Advancing Academic Achievement in the Heterogeneous Classroom. MA Tesis, Chicago: Saint Xavier University and IRI/Skylight. 1995.
 Lotan, R., Teaching Teachers to Build Equitable Classrooms. Theory Into Practice, 45(1), 8, 2006.
Keywords: Integrated master, international master, heterogeneity.