IS PBL THE ANSWER IN ATTRACTING AND RETAINING STUDENTS TO ENGINEERING?
Victoria University (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:In congruence with the Victoria University (VU) Policy adopted in 2005 to develop and implement new pedagogical directions in order to enhance its educational standing, engineering schools at VU decided to introduce and Problem- Based Learning (PBL) pedagogy into their undergraduate engineering programs. It was hoped that such an action would attract more students to engineering courses at VU with higher equivalent national tertiary entry ranking (ENTER) cut off scores, and be more attractive to girls in order to address the predominating gender imbalance. Engineering schools then undertook action to publicize the new pedagogy in secondary schools and vocational colleges. The management in engineering schools decided base the PBL delivery on a PBL adopted and used model used for a number of years at Aalborg University in Denmark. Initial implementation begun in some subjects in 2006 and by 2007 half the subjects in engineering curricula were deemed to be delivered through PBL pedagogy. Despite substantial investment in human resources and capital for constructing PBL dedicated learning studios, there was little to show for the investment. There was relatively little appreciable increase in popularity in attracting greater number of students to engineering at VU , which in terms of attractiveness remaining lowest in the packing order among engineering education providers in Melbourne. The proportion of girls selecting VU engineering as their course of study remained low. The survey results were a mixed-bag. There was some good news. Over the seven years awareness of PBL at VU amongst final year secondary students has risen. More students indicated that knowledge of PBL would be more likely to attract them to VU engineering than act as a disincentive. It must be noted that almost half of students were neutrally disposed towards PBL. Despite liking PBL large proportion of students felt more positively if teaching was delivered in more traditional pedagogies suggesting that students liked constructivist approaches within a more accessible framework. The relative high proportion of students indicating their desire to transfer to another university or course is a concern and needs to be addressed by the curriculum planners.
Keywords: Constructivist Learning, Student Perceptions.