E. Ramirez-Garcia, R. Flores-Delgado

Instituto Politécnico Nacional (MEXICO)
The Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN-Mx) is a mexican public university that looks for excellence of its graduate and post-graduate students in areas such as Engineering and Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Postgraduate department is a privileged place where innovating teaching strategies can be implemented to achieve this goal. However, at this level we still observe traditional teaching schemes which are characterized by the usage of a methodology centred on professors’ expositions and demonstrations. This teaching approach produces that the students face a lot of difficulties when they are confronted to problems in their job. Hence central hypothesis of traditional learning process at IPN-Mx consist in considering that students will develop skills to face real life problems concerning their subject area by listening teachers’ expositions and demonstrations, by mechanizing procedures to solve problems, and by learning by heart abstract concepts.

We implemented a methodology to improve the learning process based on a constructive method [1] where students are the main actors in their learning process, and where the professor is a companion in this process. Moreover under this frame all the ideas are analyzed, discussed, and eventually generalized. Further, this methodology considers that there are no errors, there are only tests to arrive to the right answer. Furthermore, this approach divides the learning process in four stages [2]: Exploration of the students’ knowledge, introduction of new contents, systematization of the new knowledge, and its application to complex problems.

We tracked the impact of these non traditional teaching strategies on students who have already taken Microwave Engineering course (Jul-Dec 2015 period) –group A– and on students who have some knowledge on this topic but that have just received this information in a traditional way –group B–. Group B stated that there is a need of changing the approaches to learn Microwave Engineering, because they have the impression of lacking the necessary concepts and skills to apply them to solve real problems in Microwave Engineering area. Group A declared that they found non traditional strategies permitted them to fully understand complex and abstract concepts. For instance: They declared to understand the mathematic tools used to represent Maxwell’s equations, which are the base of Microwave Engineering, and they believe that this new knowledge will help them to face the problems they will found during their M. in Sc. studies.

Our experience indicates that the concepts constructed by students following non-traditional methods remain months after the students finish the course Microwave Circuits Engineering.
[1] G. Hernández Rojas. Miradas constructivistas en psicología de la educación. Ed. Paidós Educador, 2006.
[2] J Jorba and E Casellas, “La regulación y la autorregulación de los aprendizajes,” Ed. Síntesis, 1997.