TOWARDS A PROJECT-BASED LEARNING (PBL) APPROACH TO TECHNICAL SUBJECTS IN THE UNDERGRADUATE ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING CURRICULA AT THE RICHARDS BAY CAMPUS, UNIVERSITY OF ZULULAND, KZN-RSA
University of Zululand (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2019
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:Concerns over threats to the quality of learning outcomes (throughputs and outputs) have seen educators seek innovative ways to improve pedagogies in higher education spaces. To this quest, the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) adds relevance of curricula to the communities of science and of practices, with practical solutions to societal, polity, and economic problems seen as urgent. Attention to learner readiness on the one hand, and the structure of the curriculum, as well as pedagogy and educator competency on the other hand - helps direct curriculum planning to attend to a point of need. A model of thinking that calls for a clear outline of course outputs and outcomes. We build on the argument that all pupils are capable of learning to prioritize clear educational outcomes, whilst empowering educators to help students achieve learning goals – with verifiable outcomes. Most significantly, that students should be able to demonstrate what they know and are able to do. Indeed, implementation could not have been more opportune than at the inception of a new suite of technical courses at the UNIZULU Richards Bay campus. A Project-Based Learning approach (PBL) has been adopted as an appropriate model to the design of the new electrical engineering curricula. To test replicability, we interrogate the application dynamics of the PBL approach, from the pedagogical lenses, the community engagement (CE) policy and the broader institutional strategy of the university – to test the efficacy. As researchers, we wanted to understand the potential of this approach on improving desired learning outcomes, with emphasis on the associated impact to all respective stakeholders. Hence, a document analysis approach was used as a qualitatively descriptive methodology. From the relativist (and constructivist) ontological standpoint, within the interpretive epistemological paradigm, we unpacked motivational factors and a comparative analysis of the objectives against the interventions – to inform conclusions and recommendations.
Keywords: Project-Based Learning (PBL), Facilitative Pedagogies, Experiential Learning, Curriculum Relevance, Learning Outcomes.