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Project design and scaffolding for realising practitioner learning in a large first year flipped classroom course

27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016

Abstract: Context: A large first year engineering flipped classroom course involving intensive project work was designed with the aim of providing students with experiences of theory integrated with both practice and professional skills. Integration of these three skillsets can be met by enacting a situated cogntion learning framework, which requires a cognitive apprenticeship approach to teaching (Collins, Brown, and Newman, 1989; Schoenfeld, 1992, 2014). However, ensuring integration of theory with practice requires careful, crafted design of projects and tasks. Furthermore, in large classes many scaffolds and supports are needed for providing the necessary master-apprenticeship experiences for students.

Purpose: The aim was to find a set of course design principles that would ensure that (i) the course projects integrated theory, practice and professional skills, and (ii) the quality of master-apprenticeship experiences provided ensured that the students were adequately helped and guided throughout their projects.

Approach: The principles used to design the project work were: continuous variation in core variables during operation, hands-on experiences, project design decisions requiring professional judgements, and inclusion of project tasks that integrated theory, practice and professional skills. These principles were used to ensure the integration of core theoretical concepts (i.e. Tensile Strength concepts) into the applied project work. Furthermore, extensive distributed scaffolding (Puntambekar and Kolodner, 2005) was used to provide students with cognitive apprenticeship experiences using an array of supports, guides, and skill-building activities.

Results: The students' final reflections as well as their reports were investigated to find evidence that confirmed or critiqued the effectiveness of the course design and course scaffolds. Students provided many comments about the importance of the tensile strength concepts in designing, modelling, testing and building, suggesting that each stage of the project had facilitated learning of theory that was integrated with practice. Inspection of students' final reports revealed that the project work had enhanced the understanding of some teams but not others. Student appraisals of course supports revealed a majority of positive comments regarding cognitive apprentice-type experiences and the supports provided, as well as some negative comments regarding lack of tutor support or knowledge.

Conclusions: Overall, the course design achieved the goals of integrating core discipline concepts into the project work at each stage of the project, as well as providing cognitive apprenticeship experiences for students. These successes were possible due to (i) careful design of projects to ensure that theory was integrated with practice, and (ii) an extensive array of scaffolds for providing students with the necessary guidance and support thought the project work.

To cite this article: Reidsema, Carl A; Kavanagh, Lydia and McCredden, Julie E. Project design and scaffolding for realising practitioner learning in a large first year flipped classroom course [online]. In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 575-586. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=697616888132605;res=IELENG> ISBN: 9780994152039. [cited 27 Jul 17].

Personal Author: Reidsema, Carl A; Kavanagh, Lydia; McCredden, Julie E; Source: In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 575-586. DOI: Document Type: Conference Paper ISBN: 9780994152039 Subject: Science projects--Design and construction; Cognitive learning theory; Cognitive apprenticeship; Integration (Theory of knowledge); Scaffolding--Design and construction; Self-culture; Peer Reviewed: Yes Affiliation: (1) Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, The University of Queensland
(2) Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, The University of Queensland
(3) Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, The University of Queensland, email: j.mccredden@uq.edu.au

Database: Engineering Collection