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M.A. Sanroman, M. Pazos, M.A. Longo

University of Vigo (SPAIN)
Engineering students need to acquire a strong knowledge both of theory and practice aspects, in order to be able to practice their profession in a potentially diverse range of situations. Additionally, generic competences in communication and teamwork, amongst others, are also required.

Therefore, engineering courses must be carefully designed to achieve the desired learning objectives. First of all, contents should be selected and organized, taking into consideration the applicable legal restrictions. Especial attention is to be paid to lessons sequence, and realistic scheduling of tasks.

The general structure of engineering courses often includes a number of different activities, such as theory and/or problems solving sessions, laboratory courses, case studies, seminars, field site visits, etc. They have to be adequately distributed and coordinated to help the student in the learning process. Decision tree analysis may be a valuable tool for the lecturer in the preparation of the course structure.

On the other hand, teaching methodologies have to be selected, implemented and evaluated. The utilization of different methodologies, adapted to each part of the course, would be desirable [1-4]. Both face-to-face and computer-based strategies can be combined, and collaborative learning is to be stressed. Individual or group assignments, electronic discussion boards, multimedia material, news analysis and discussion…can be useful additional tools.

This paper describes the planning of an undergraduate Bioprocess Engineering course, from the contents definition and structure, to the selection of the teaching methodologies to be employed in each part of the work. A final assessment of the experience is carried out, including a survey to measure students’ perception on the course.

[1] Whitman LE, Malzahn DE, Chaparro BS, Russell M, Langrall R, Mohler BA (2005) A comparison of group processes, performance, and satisfaction in face-to-face versus computer-mediated engineering student design teams. J Eng Educ 94:327-333.
[2] Dym CL, Agogino AM, Eris O, Frey DD, Leifer LJ (2005) Engineering design thinking, teaching, and learning. J Eng Educ 94:103-119.
[3] Qualters DM, Sheahan TC, Mason EJ, Navick DS, Dixon M (2008) Improving learning in first-year engineering courses through interdisciplinary collaborative assessment. J Eng Educ 97:37-44.
[4] Terenzini PT, Cabrera AF, Colbeck CL, Parente JM, Bjorklund SA (2001) Collaborative learning vs. lecture/discussion: Students' reported learning gains. J Eng Educ 90:123-130.