22 SES 06 D, Student Learning and Performances
One of the significant changes in the educational paradigm implemented with the Bologna Process in the European Higher Education Institutions (Bologna Declaration, 1999) was the focus on student centered learning and active student involvement in the learning process. The shift from traditional learning to student centered learning in higher education implies, as for example, the need for learning to be aimed at professional practice, to foster critical thinking, student autonomy, creativity and the importance of developing active and deep learning (Helle et al., 2006). As a consequence, greater attention has been given to active learning methodologies. In the context of Engineering Education, student centred learning has taken the form of project approaches (Fernandes, Mesquita, Flores & Lima, 2014; Lima, Carvalho, Flores, & van Hattum-Janssen, 2007; Powell & Weenk, 2003) and other cooperative learning environments (Johnson, Johnson & Smith, 1998).
Project-based learning (PBL), according Powell & Weenk (2003), aim at fostering student-centeredness, teamwork, interdisciplinarity, development of critical thinking and competencies related to interpersonal communication and project management. By learning through projects and teamwork, students move from merely listening and reading about abstract concepts to working with their teammates in applying those concepts in order to solve real-world problems.
This paper presents findings from a case study of PBL carried out at an Engineering programme at the University of Minho, Portugal. The study is part of a broader research project aimed at analyzing the impact of PBL on student learning and on teacher's work (Fernandes, 2011). For the purpose of this paper, qualitative research methods and their relevance for understanding students’ views on their learning process and outcomes will be discussed in a deep approach.
Bryman, A. (2004). Social Research Methods. Oxford : Oxford University Press. Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (1994). Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. European Ministers of Education, 1999, “The Bologna Declaration of 19 June 1999” The European Higher Education Area. Fernandes, S. (2011). Aprendizagem baseada em Projectos no contexto do Ensino Superior: Avaliação de um dispositivo pedagógico no Ensino de Engenharia. Tese de Doutoramento em Ciências da Educação (área de especialização em Desenvolvimento Curricular). Centro de Investigação em Educação. Universidade do Minho. Fernandes, S., Mesquita, D., Flores, M. A., & Lima, R. M. (2014). Engaging students in learning: findings from a study of project-led education. European Journal of Engineering Education, 39(1), 55-67. Helle, L., Tynjälä, P., & Olkinuora, E. (2006). Project-based learning in post-secondary education - theory, practice and rubber sling shots. Higher Education. 51(2), 287-314. Johnson, D. W. & Johnson, R. T. & Smith, K. A. (1998). Active learning: Cooperation in the college classroom. 2nd edition. Edina, Minn: Interaction Book Co. Lima, R. M., Carvalho, D., Flores, M. A.& N. van Hattum-Janssen. (2007). A Case Study on Project Led Education in Engineering: Students’ and Teachers’ Perceptions. European Journal of Engineering Education. 32 (3): 337–347. Powell, P. C. and Weenk, W., 2003, “Project-Led Engineering Education” Utrecht: Lemma. Silverman, D. (1997) (org.). Qualitative research: Theory, Method and Practice. London: Sage
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