A. Elías, N. Rojo, M. Corcuera, N. Azpiazu, G. Gallastegui, L. Gurtubay, A. Eceiza

University of the Basque Country (SPAIN)
Currently, the implementation of the new curricula in the Spanish University system (according to the methodology proposed by Bologna), has stimulated the university teaching staff to share their own educational experiences and results. It is important to point out that the final objective of the new activities applied and the use of new resources is mainly to motivate students towards autonomous learning. This experience has been raised for a two years period, being developed in the same department, the Chemical Engineering and Environment Department at the University of the Basque Country. The group consists of 6 professors teaching subjects of Chemical Engineering at two centers, ETSI in Bilbao and Polytechnic School in Donostia-San Sebastian, in different degrees, and includes students from both grade and post-grade courses. Initially, the aim of this study has been to enhance students’ implication during their own learning process. It is well-known that the lack of motivation is the principal reason to explain final unsatisfactory results.
In the first meeting, all the ideas suggested by each work-mate were put forward. The most relevant proposals were: surveys at the beginning and at the end of the course, use of Moodle resources (forum questions, issues, deliverables, etc.), virtual tutorials, report-delivery via e-mail and special training courses for those students who would like to act as assistant teachers in lab-practicals.
Despite a lot of effort had been made in order to introduce new imaginative resorts in the different subjects, not all the suggestions have led to a higher contribution and motivation of the students. The different activities carried out were put together, followed by a critical analysis in order to improve them for the next year.
Encouraging experiences:
• Previous surveys have revealed students’ ignorance in relation to several basic concepts that are essential for the development of the subject.
• Students make all the homework exercises proposed; however, it is usually necessary 2-3 revisions in order to complete them satisfactorily.
• Students have adequately worked in the self-assessment questions.
• Presential tutorials are widely used in the first academic-years’ subjects.
• Report delivery via Moodle has been favorably accepted and carried out on time by third-year students.
• The use of students as teacher assistants for practices has opened a very interesting door in order to encourage students.
Negative aspects:
• We have observed that many issues and questions proposed in the Moodle remain unresolved mainly because of students’ fear “to make a fool of oneself”. These questions have been proposed in the final exam.
• Tutorials by email are only used in rare cases, e.g. the day before report-delivery deadline. The fear mentioned above is also obvious in this case.
• Delivered reports do not still follow a logical order in their structure: title, objective, material and methods, results and discussion, conclusions.
We must learn from these experiences and, why not, also from our own errors to achieve continuous improvement. The inclusion of the proposed activities in the final mark has been recommended in order to promote students’ active participation. It is essential to overcome the fear of the students to face up to the group and the teacher through their active participation.