LEARNING ACTIVITIES: LINKING THEORY AND INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS

N. Rojo, E. Acha, A. López-Urionabarrenetxea, A. Elías

University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) (SPAIN)
The implementation of the Bologna Process implies the application of innovative educational methodologies aimed to encourage and promote student effort and learning. Nevertheless, most of the courses are still too theoretical.

The aim of this work was to help students link the knowledge acquired in bachelor degrees with real applications, connection that is sometimes not very clear when traditional theoretical methods are used. This experience has been developed in a “Chemical Technology” course, which is part of the curriculum of two bachelor degrees given in the Faculty of Engineering of Bilbao (UPV/EHU): Industrial Technology Engineering (300 students divided into 6 groups) and Industrial Organization Engineering (25 students, 2 groups). The number of students in each group depends on the language used in the lectures (Spanish, Basque and English). Thus, there are some groups which are very large (>100) while other groups are quite small (≈10). In the 2013-2014 academic year, the experience was implemented only in two small (10 students) and one medium (40 students) group, in order to infer some conclusions which will allow a future implementation of similar activities in the larger groups.

In the case of the 10-students groups, the activity consisted of an oral presentation in groups composed of 3 students. The main concepts and the industrial applications of the acquired knowledge were summarized after each unit. The exposition was brief (advised by the lecturer) and, as the groups were small, did not suppose many class time. In the case of the 40-students course, the task was to select an industrial process, summarize it and expose it in 7 minutes. In this case, the work was done in pairs and only once in the course, due to the time limitations which the group size implied.

The main conclusion of the experience is that students gained knowledge on the industrial-scale applications related to the subject. In addition, they reinforced important mainstream skills in their Engineering career, such as self-learning, information searching and gathering, team work and oral communication skills. The experience has been satisfactory in small student groups; now the challenge is to design a similar methodology which could be developed in larger groups.