DEVELOPING COMPETENCES IN BUILDING ENGINEERING THROUGH THE USE OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS: THE CASE OF A FINAL PROJECT WORKSHOP
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:That current labour markets increasingly rely on higher skill levels and transversal competences is well known. In fact, in order to confront this fact, the European Ministers responsible for Higher Education have agreed that “higher education should equip students with the advanced knowledge, skills and competences they need throughout their professional lives” (Communiqué of the Conference, Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve, 28-29 April 2009).
In the case of Spanish Building Engineers, their most characteristic professional profiles are the following: 1. Technical project management, 2. Production project management, 3. Prevention, health and safety, 4. Building exploitation, 5. Consulting, counseling and technical auditing and 6. Technical project drafting and development.
In order to attain the above mentioned profiles, the study program for Building Engineering takes into account the acquisition of both general and specific competencies. Among the first group the following could be highlighted: ability for communicating oral and written information; ethic behavior in engineering, critical and self-criticism awareness; ability to gather and interpret relevant data in order to give opinions including observations regarding important social, scientific or ethical topics. In the case of specific competencies, we will focus our attention on the ability to manage human resources in construction projects from an operative and a strategic approach, ability to motivate subordinates and leadership of working teams.
The School of Building Engineering at the Universitat Politècnica de Valencia has developed a new process for the Final Project which started in the year 2010-2011. It is organized in 33 workshops of different contents composed of 15 to 18 students. This paper focuses on one of these workshops entitled “Job satisfaction”, which has allowed us to experience with qualitative research methods as a way of attaining the previous professional competences.
Qualitative research can be construed as a research strategy that usually emphasizes words rather than quantification in the collection and analysis of data. It predominantly highlights an inductive approach to the relationship between theory and research, rejecting the practices and the norms of the natural scientific model and of positivism, in preference for an emphasis on the ways in which individuals interpret their social world. This perspective has the potential to provide complementary insights, enriching understanding of the perspective of those who work in the construction sector.
As the students carried out their final project research according to qualitative methods, they had to overcome associated challenges and complexities that we meet in everyday life, such as being able to organize a meeting between four or five very busy people, organizing a place for a meeting, dealing with people they had never met before and dealing with problems such as equipment failure and non-cooperation. This paper reports different themes and advantages that emerged from the final project workshop experience and shows how the students enhanced their professional competencies.