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A. Castro, C. Núñez, G. Iglesias, I. Valcarce

University of Santiago de Compostela (SPAIN)
Project-based learning (PBL) is an educational method in which students learn by means of the development of projects based on real problems working in cooperative teams. Unlike traditional teacher-centred methods, PBL is based on educational activities that encourage long-term, interdisciplinary and student-centred learning. PBL modifies the traditional learning process in which educational information is provided to the students by means of lectures and subsequently applied to practical cases more or less connected to reality. Instead, PBL introduces a real problem to be solved by the students, who must identify their learning needs and find information about the different aspects involved in the problem. In this way, students know the problem from the beginning of the process and have perfectly clear the applicability of the knowledge they are acquiring. This method is being used by the Group of Education Innovation in Civil Engineering (GIDEC) of the University of Santiago de Compostela for civil engineers training. Students must work on a real civil engineering project of a transport infrastructure, either a road or a railway line, during the 2nd semester of 2nd year of their Civil Engineering Degree. Students begin to work on the project in the subject Design and Construction of Linear Infrastructures, whose teaching program contemplates the realization of a Basic Project of Design which serves as a basis for developing a much more global project involving other subjects of the 2nd semester: Geotechnical Engineering, Hydraulics II and Structures II. At the end of the 2nd year, the aspects of the project related to the specific objectives of these subjects must be fully resolved. Nevertheless, students have the opportunity to continue their work in other subjects of the 3rd and 4th year, such as Geotechnical Construction I, Geotechnical Construction II, Road Surface and Conservation, etc. The implementation of PBL has proved to be very useful to help students to acquire a more global view of the specific work carried out in the different subjects, and to improve the coordination between the areas of knowledge involved in the project. In this paper, the results and conclusions obtained from the experiences carried out by the GIDEC using PBL are presented.