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A. Castro, C. Nuñez, G. Iglesias, R. Carballo

University of Santiago de Compostela (SPAIN)
Predominant educational models used so far for the training of civil engineers have been based on teacher-centered methods with the fundamental objective of providing to the future engineers certain specific competences related to their professional activity without paying enough attention to the acquisition of generic skills of great interest too. These teaching methods generally consist of theoretical and practical master classes with large groups of students and in certain subjects some laboratory classes. These educational activities are usually characterized by having little or no interaction between teacher and student or among students which makes generic skills training very difficult. One of the most valued generic skills in Civil Engineering is the ability to work effectively in multidisciplinary teams. Therefore it is very important for future civil engineers to achieve during their formative years an appropriate level in relation to this generic skill. Taking this fact into account, the Group of Education Innovation in Civil Engineering has been promoting the implementation and development of student-centered methods fundamentally based on cooperative learning in several subjects. In this paper, the results and conclusions obtained from the teaching experiences carried out by the group are presented. These experiences have proved that student-centered methods based on cooperative learning are also effective to acquire specific competences and more appropriate than traditional teacher-centered methods in order to train not only the ability to work in teams but also other generic skills such as: information management skills, planning and time management, ability to coordinate activities, oral and written communication, critical and self-critical abilities, capacity to adapt to new situations, etc.