NEW APPROACHES ON FINAL YEAR PROJECTS: FROM PBL TO CL
Traditionally in technical degrees taught at the university, the finalization of the studies requires the development of a Final Year Project which represents, in most cases, the student's first contact with the professional activity. The work to be carried out is a technical, professional, unpublished and original project that students should develop under the mentoring of professors and subsequently should defend in public exposition in front of five professors. A fundamental premise is that work must be individual and, in the particular case of the Civil Engineering degree, it must be a full construction project that meets all the requirements of definition, contents and administrative issues applicable to real projects.
Experience in recent years shows that, with this procedure, through the development of the final year project students acquire the knowledge to start their professional activity; nevertheless, this means a very important effort to them and also to the tutor, with an academic load for the student much higher than expected on the curriculum and far above the recognition given to the professors by academic authorities.
For this reason, in recent years various experiences have been carried out by professors of the Civil Engineering degree designed to maintain the same level of knowledge by the students but reducing the workload for both the students and the professor. Combining cooperative learning techniques and project-based learning, the results in this sense have been satisfactory, as the knowledge acquired by the students and their specific skills training are maintained, and generic skills training is improved.
The paper describes three finalized experiences, with others in progress, with groups of students of various sizes and topics, but in all cases related to the specialty of Transport and Urban Services and tutored by various teachers of the Group of Education Innovation in Civil Engineering. Each student performs a different project individually, but the difficulties are faced in group. Reflections are made for the difficulties encountered in the process of project planning and about the advantages observed in teamwork, considering improvements that are being implemented in the current working groups, and that will be helpful when planning the new subject of Final Project of the degree adapted to the EHEA, where the control of the working hours performed by the student should be much stricter.