About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3533-3548
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain

EXPERIENCE IN DEVELOPING COMMUNICATION COMPETENCES IN POPBL WITH A MULTIDISCIPLINARY FOCUS IN THE COMPUTING ENGINEERING CURRICULUM

M. García, X. Ferré, N. Medinilla

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Facultad de Informática (SPAIN)
Engineers spend up to 40% of their time writing and speaking on the job, those who can’t communicate well are definitely held back from their career advancement. They not only cause frustration and irritation among peers, superiors, and customers, but sometimes outright harm or expense can result from their inadequate communication skills.
Engineering is largely a discipline of problem solving, and students are familiar with this phrase, we encourage our students to look at the tasks involved in engineering communication skills acquisition as a problem solving learning task. The “problem” to be solved in technical communication is to clearly transmit information from the encoder to the decoder with as little noise or distortion as possible, whether the message is a memo or a technical talk. The problem is only fully solved when the document or presentation has been effectively transmitted and the desired response has been obtained.
As implied above, we approach the question of “correctness” in writing and speech from the standpoint of noise. Anything that prevents efficient communication is simply noise, or unwanted signals that interfere with the message.
Students taking a course unit with a focus on project-oriented and problem-based learning (POPBL), where they are expected to defend their designs in front of peers, are obliged to make a communication effort for which compulsory degree course subjects fail to stand them in good stead. This approach has been used to teach two subjects the Practical Software System Construction Assignment (undergraduate) and Software Usability (postgraduate) course units included in the Computing Engineering Degree programme run at Facultad de Informática, Universidad Politecnica de Madrid during the last past five years. Early on, students were found to have deficient oral communication skills when giving formal presentations in the classroom.
Therefore, we implemented a project designed to include the development of communication skill as a horizontal competence as part of the subject syllabus. This project provides explicit training on that topic through lectures, student self-assessment through recordings of formal presentations, and an evaluation of how student communication skills have improved through pre and post surveys.
From the evaluation point of view, we found that these students strengthened their skills of oral communication and technical topics presentations, acquired key facts about how to prepare a presentation for a specialized audience and learned to be self-critical about the oral presentation preparation.

From the methodological viewpoint, the teaching method (POPBL) used in the project design has given us the chance to supplement with non-technical skills the technical topics addressed in the course units, being the students classroom presentations a key component of POPBL. Thanks to the project implementation, we were also able to stress just how important interdisciplinarity can be in the engineering curricula design as we have proven in one of the subjects covered by the project, namely Software Usability.
The experience gained from this project has been useful as groundwork for planning the development of horizontal competences in the new Computing Engineering curriculum complying with the Bologna Declaration guidelines in order to be integrated in HEEE (Higher European Education Espace) in a nearby future.
@InProceedings{GARCIA2009EXP,
author = {Garc{\'{i}}a, M. and Ferr{\'{e}}, X. and Medinilla, N.},
title = {EXPERIENCE IN DEVELOPING COMMUNICATION COMPETENCES IN POPBL WITH A MULTIDISCIPLINARY FOCUS IN THE COMPUTING ENGINEERING CURRICULUM},
series = {2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2009 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-2953-3},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {3533-3548}}
TY - CONF
AU - M. García AU - X. Ferré AU - N. Medinilla
TI - EXPERIENCE IN DEVELOPING COMMUNICATION COMPETENCES IN POPBL WITH A MULTIDISCIPLINARY FOCUS IN THE COMPUTING ENGINEERING CURRICULUM
SN - 978-84-613-2953-3/2340-1095
PY - 2009
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2009
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2009 Proceedings
SP - 3533
EP - 3548
ER -
M. García, X. Ferré, N. Medinilla (2009) EXPERIENCE IN DEVELOPING COMMUNICATION COMPETENCES IN POPBL WITH A MULTIDISCIPLINARY FOCUS IN THE COMPUTING ENGINEERING CURRICULUM, ICERI2009 Proceedings, pp. 3533-3548.
User:
Pass: