AN INTEGRATIVE APPROACH TO TECHNOLOGY LEARNING AT UNIVERSITY LEVEL: CASE STUDY OF THE INDUSTRIAL CENTRE
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HONG KONG)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:This case study aims to provide a critical evaluation of the decision by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Industrial Centre (IC) to develop a number of integrative learning (IL) modules offered as part of the undergraduate programme. It seeks to examine why the Centre has taken the approach of using product-realisation process to weave together what has traditionally been purely piece-wise technical training modules.
IL is a pedagogy IC developed since 2005. Ten years ago IC had foreseen that the shift of Hong Kong’s social-economic function would redefine the career prospect of its graduates. As a result, IC’s traditional propensity to provide hands-on, workshop-intensive, professionally-oriented education would no longer be adequate. New elements such as decision-making, exploration, and collaboration had to be infused into its curricula. It was in this background that IL was conceived.
Integration is the most notable feature of IL. As the development efforts accumulated, IL has permeated many facets of IC and the word ‘integrative’ in IL has gained multiple meanings: The word stands for “integration of academic knowledge & application” in student performance perspective, “integration of engineering processes” in content perspective, “integration of training modules” in planning perspective, and the “integration of IC instructor teams” in organisation perspective.
Initial survey findings suggest that there are clear benefits for integrative learning modules over piece-wise training. IL is now an important part of IC teaching activity. In academic year 2007/08, over 14% of the total IC teaching commitment was conducted in IL mode.
This case study will be of value for those institutions which are considering introducing “design-and-make” learning modules for science and engineering students. Practical implications of this case study is that institutions could consider integrative learning as part of the response to the engineering curriculum congestion issue, in a climate where innate feel for engineering practices is replacing comprehensive engineering know-how in the measurement of professional performance.
The paper concluded by describing a research plan to establish whether there is a clear link between students electing the IL modules and a positive impact on graduate employability.
Keywords: engineering education, product realisation, case study.