TOWARDS IMPROVING THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN NATIONAL DIPLOMA MECHANICAL ENGINEERING THERMODYNAMICS STUDENTS
Walter Sisulu University (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The purpose of this research is to investigate possible alternative methods or a combination of methods of teaching and learning Thermodynamics 2 (MTHE 2). With the current teaching methods used, course outcomes as required by South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) are not achieved and alternative strategies are necessary to rectify this. What innovative strategies can assist the National Diploma Mechanical Engineering (NDME) improvement of academic performance of MTHE 2 students? What could be the optimum performance indicators for the course outcomes? In terms of this how are students performing? What are the strength and weaknesses currently? What are the ways in which these weaknesses can be overcome? Students will be exposed to a different approach during the course offering which will engage them more actively in the learning process and placing more responsibility on them for their own learning and progress. The research will be based on a control group and an experimental group subjected to pre-test post-test evaluation. Structured and unstructured questionnaires will also be given to all NDME students to determine their opinion of current teaching methods and short comings and what can be done to address this. From the experimental group, information regarding the impact of these new innovations on their learning as well as their attitude towards their studies will be gathered through these questionnaires and their performance measured against the outcomes. Data will be collected from both groups by means of standard assessment i.e. test results, examination results, and practical experiment results. The experimental group will in addition also be subjected to project work, group work and individual oral tests. Key performance indicators will be used to determine the extent to which these outcomes have been achieved. This research will highlight an alternative approach to teaching and learning which will enhance student learning and knowledge retention. Students will be better equipped and will have more confidence and specialized skills in problem solving which will result in more efficient and competent engineers entering industry. This will also be an exercise to test the efficiency of current teaching practices and to re-look at a more student centered approach where inductive teaching and active learning will place more emphasis on student’s responsibility for their own learning.
Keywords: Outcomes, alternative teaching and learning, active learning, responsibility, key performance indicators.