About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4844-4853
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain

A PROJECT-BASED PEDAGOGY FOR TECHNICAL EDUCATION AMONG FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS

M. Helguera, J. Pow

Rochester Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
In the fall of 2010 the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (CIS) at the
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) completely abandoned its traditional lecture- based pedagogy for incoming freshmen, and in its place implemented a radically different project-based curriculum for all first year students. With this new approach, all incoming students work together as a single integrated multidisciplinary team for a full academic year to design, develop, build, and test a unique, fully functional imaging system. The goal in implementing this approach is to provide the students with a foundational experience which is more relevant, more engaging, more challenging, and more motivating than the pedagogy which has been used to date. As a result, it is expected that the students will be better prepared to succeed in their upper class studies, and ultimately to graduate with the tools they will need to thrive in an increasingly dynamic, collaborative, and innovative workforce.

This new pedagogy is based on two fundamental beliefs. The first is that incoming college students are far more capable of successfully undertaking complex technical challenges than conventional pedagogical paradigms would suggest. Therefore, the students engaged in this curriculum are given a level of autonomy and responsibility rarely seen by first year undergraduates at other universities. For example, after establishing a work breakdown structure the students divide themselves into separate work groups depending on their individual abilities or interests, with each group assuming responsibility for a particular subsystem, component, or aspect of the project. Although their efforts are scaffolded by an experienced team of faculty mentors, these freshmen largely determine the nature and direction of their own activities as they work toward their project goals.

The second fundamental belief is that student motivation and therefore performance are enhanced when their efforts are connected to relevant, exciting, authentic applications. Throughout this project the students are given the opportunity to interact with professional researchers from around the world who are doing work on the cutting edge of their respective fields through the use of imaging systems very similar to the one being designed in this class. And in an effort to maximize the authenticity of their experience, the students play an active role in oral and written dissemination of their results throughout this global community of researchers.

The effectiveness of this pedagogy is being formally evaluated by an external review team. If it proves to be successful, the impact on STEM education at the college freshman level could be transformational. At a minimum, this project could change long-held perceptions about the abilities of first year students, and could lead to a new understanding of the role of faculty in undergraduate education. After describing the new pedagogy at length, this paper provides a detailed account of its effect to date on the first cohort of students and the implications of those effects on the ultimate effectiveness of this approach.
@InProceedings{HELGUERA2011APR,
author = {Helguera, M. and Pow, J.},
title = {A PROJECT-BASED PEDAGOGY FOR TECHNICAL EDUCATION AMONG FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS},
series = {5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-7423-3},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {7-9 March, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {4844-4853}}
TY - CONF
AU - M. Helguera AU - J. Pow
TI - A PROJECT-BASED PEDAGOGY FOR TECHNICAL EDUCATION AMONG FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS
SN - 978-84-614-7423-3/2340-1079
PY - 2011
Y1 - 7-9 March, 2011
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2011 Proceedings
SP - 4844
EP - 4853
ER -
M. Helguera, J. Pow (2011) A PROJECT-BASED PEDAGOGY FOR TECHNICAL EDUCATION AMONG FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS, INTED2011 Proceedings, pp. 4844-4853.
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