R. Porras1, J. Arias-Trujillo2

1University of Castilla-La Mancha (SPAIN)
2University of Extremadura (SPAIN)
In any engineering degree, it is very usual to observe a large gap of previous knowledge between undergraduate students, what makes the apprenticeship really difficult. This situation is very common in most of the first-year subjects of any engineering degree, as for instance with those ones which are connected with graphicacy skills. We can find students who have never studied any subject related to technical drawing and at the same time, students who have trained their graphicacy skills along several years, especially the spatial vision, and moreover they have usually obtained the best marks. So the first group of students shows serious problems to understand and follow the content, and obviously to pass the subject.

To improve this situation, an innovative activity based on a mentoring approach has been developed in the first-year of a Civil Engineering degree. The class was divided into subgroups composed by two or three people led by a captain. This role was assumed only by a student who has studied and reached good marks at graphicacy subjects along its secondary curriculum. This activity was aimed to learn Dihedral System and was supported by theoretical lessons and practical exercises. A total of seven practices were worked in class. For each one, first the captain solved it under the watchful of its mates. After, when the professor has validated the proposal solution, the rest of the group solved their own tasks under the guidance of the captain.

Finally, a survey has been conducted to the students to assess the outcome. Most of the students are satisfied with this activity. On the one hand, they appreciated the support received by the captain and on the other hand, the captains highlighted the fact of dealing with a problem and the necessity of reaching an enough compression level of the problem for explaining it to others. From the professor’s point of view, this activity has been useful to equalize the different start points of knowledge between students and also has been useful to develop others transversal competence as team-work, learn to learn or leadership. After the successful results of this activity, it is encouraged to extend this experience to others subjects or courses.