P. Martí1, M. Gasque2, P. González-Altozano2

1Universitat Illes Balears (SPAIN)
2Universitat Politècnica de València (SPAIN)
Most of the subjects of a degree program in Spanish universities consider a classical transfer of knowledge combining theoretical as well as practical contents. Given the limitation of time assigned to a particular matter inside the degree program, lecturers tend to focus exclusively on the essential transfer of fundamentals of their subjects. So, they don’t include any session about the meaning of research in the context of their subjects.

Although the student’s knowledge might be limited, in general, for a proper understanding of research studies in that subject, an introduction to the research activity of the lecturer, the department and the school might involve important benefits. Further, lecturers also omit to include a brief introduction to the meaning and implications of beginning a scientific career after finishing a degree program. Under such conditions, students with scientific vocation might not know how to proceed after finishing the degree programs.

This paper aims at assessing how students of a degree program might perceive research. Therefore, a practical session was carried out in the subject ‘Hydraulics and Irrigation’ corresponding to the degree of Agricultural Engineering at the Universitat de les Illes Balears.

The lecturer prepared a list of papers dealing with key issues linked to the subject, and the students should select one of them and prepare an oral presentation with the most important aspects encountered. The audience of that presentation was the rest of students. Further, the lecturer presented his main research topics. He also presented quality indicators of indexed papers, including his publication indexes. In two different surveys, carried out before the paper choice and after the presentation, students should answer questions reflecting, among others, their perception about the difficulty of understanding a scientific paper, their own English command level, their own technical knowledge, the interest of the paper content for their future professional activity, their interest for beginning a scientific career in the future, and their interest on the scientific activity and quality indexes of the lecturer.

Students showed a positive attitude during the activity. A great part of them realized that they were able to understand a scientific paper. They acknowledged the interest of some aspects of the papers, although the subject might not be among their favorite ones. Most of them would repeat the activity in other subjects. Finally, most of them showed great interest about getting information about the lecturer’s scientific activity and quality indexes.

With such kind of activities, students get in touch with research studies of the subject. They learn how to extract and apply knowledge from research papers and put it into practice. This session also contributes to visualize the applicability and usefulness of theoretical contents on the subject, improving motivation and learning. They also get in touch with research topics tackled by the staff of the department, allowing for future collaboration with interested students.