Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 3117-3121
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
The present work shows the improvement of the results obtained by the students that have participated in an online discussion forum. Students are genuinely interested in the emerging generation power technologies; hence, an online discussion forum about this topic has been used as a tool for motivating students and teaching thermal engineering. Students from Mechanical, Electrical Power and Automation and Industrial Electronics Engineering degrees offered by Carlos III University of Madrid were asked to participate in the forum. Statistical analysis shows how Forum participation correlates with student interest on thermal engineering, being a direct measure of the course success.

The recent requirements of the European Higher Education area make necessary the introduction of new teaching strategies that account for the continuous evaluation of the students as well as establish criteria for competences and skills achievement. At this regard, it is worth distinguishing between specific technical and general skills (i.e. problem solving methodology, workgroup abilities, use of information resources). Technical competences are evaluated through class exercises proposed to revise the main topics covered during the sessions, evaluation tests, and a final exam. Among the different teaching methods available for general skills evaluation, such as the portfolio, the fishbowl scenario, teamwork projects, etc., in this work it is proposed a discussion forum to assess the critical attitude of the student towards identifying and evaluating technologies related to the different topics covered during the course. Moreover, the discussion forum provides a snapshot of the student research skills to get information and knowledge from other sources different from the course material.
The proposed methodology has been applied to the course of Thermal Engineering, belonging to the new Mechanical, Electrical Power, and Automation and Industrial Electronics Engineering degrees offered by Carlos III University of Madrid. The aim of this course is to understand the thermodynamic basic processes that determine the performance of elementary engineering devices (e.g. valves, turbines, compressors, heat exchangers and power plant cycles) as well as the basic principles related to heat transfer that are present in any field of engineering (electronics, electrical and thermo-mechanical).
Discussion forum, continuous evaluation, success ratio, thermal engineering.