V. Donzella, A.J. Allen, G. Dhadyalla

WMG University of Warwick (UNITED KINGDOM)
WMG at the University of Warwick has promoted an unprecedented collaboration between industry (i.e. Jaguar Land Rover, JLR) and academia, creating the Technical Accreditation Scheme (TAS)[1-2]. In this context, several Master’s level modules have been taught with the aim of enhancing the JLR employees’ STEM knowledge and skills. The modules value 10 or 15 CATS, and depending on the number of modules completed, students can gain a Postgraduate Certificate, a Diploma, or an MSc (180 CATS).

Due to its unique structure and audience TAS modules face 2 challenges:
- the variety of participants coming from JLR, in terms of backgrounds (e.g. managerial, electrical, mechanical) and years of expertise (from new graduates to industry experts);
- contents' delivery is concentrated in one week (40 hours).

Both of these challenges require new teaching strategies, to enhance active participation and to increase engagement. These strategies are aligned with student-focused teaching described in [3], and the attempt to encourage students to develop deep levels of understanding. Usually, in the same module several different strategies are blended, from the traditional lecture, to case studies, group activities, guest lecturers’ presentations, short project development, on-line tailored questionnaires, brainstorming-sessions and game-based sessions [4].

In particular, this study reports the use of a board-game to engage students on the topic of MISRA-C guidelines [4] and automotive software robustness (students’ knowledge of MISRA-C guidelines is tested in the post-module assignment). The board-game has been developed by the course tutors and the game is titled ‘Save the Coder’. The board-game creates an interactive session on a crucial topic, combing fun and challenges to enhance the students’ learning [5]. Each student will play the role of an automotive software engineer, trying to escape the temptation of writing ‘obscure code’, full of hidden errors.

During his/her path to the final ‘clean code’ (corresponding to the path on the board-game), the students will face the following tasks:
- Explain MISRA-C guidelines;
- Explain reasons of non-compliance with MISRA-C guidelines;
- Correct a non-complaint code;
- Spot the error in the code;
- Find which MISRA-C guideline has been violated.

Answers to a specific challenge are discussed by the class and then by the lecturer, giving immediate feedback. Depending on the completion of their tasks, participants can have a reward, from rolling the dice again, to selecting a shortcut in the path. Thus, different forms of challenge, formative assessment, feedback and reward have been used to reinforce students’ deep-learning [6].

The board-game session received positive feedback from the students (e.g. ‘This is a great way to broach a potentially dull subject’, ‘really good and engaging’); the levels of participation and interaction are high (in students’ feedback an average of the 90% of the students declares that the game is useful and 77% that is fun). Based on this, new game-based activities for the TAS modules will be developed.

[1] ALLEN, AJ. ICERI2015 Proceedings, 2015, 5620-5629.
[2] THETHI, A., et al., EDULEARN13 Proceedings, 2013, 5162-5169.
[3] ENTWISTLE, N. 2003.
[4] RAMSDEN, PR. 2003.
[5] DOMÍNGUEZ, A., Computers & Education, 2013, 63: 380-392.
[6] NICOL, D. et al., Studies in higher education, 2006, 31.2: 199-218.