Disaster week: A case study immersing first year engineering students in a disaster context to measure communication skills

Bigham, Aidan (2014) Disaster week: A case study immersing first year engineering students in a disaster context to measure communication skills. Australasian Association for Engineering Education. - 2014, Wellington, New Zealand, 08-10 December, 2014.

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Abstract or Summary

CONTEXT Communication is vitally important in any engineering role, a fact which students studying engineering do not tend to appreciate until near the end of their diploma or degree. This paper will focus on a first year module, Technical Literacy which is composed of 50 % communication and 50 % drawing. Because Technical Literacy is internally assessed students place more emphasis on the drawing, losing focus on the communication aspects. This paper will discuss the immersion of first year New Zealand Diploma of Engineering students (NZDE) in a five day intensive disaster scenario (modelled from Saemundsdottir, Matthiasdottir, Audunsson, & Saevarsdottir, (2012)) to actively measure an individual student’s communication skills. PURPOSE OR GOAL The purpose of the change in practice was twofold; to enhance the relevance of engineering communication with the students, as well as creating an immersed context to encourage completion of course material. APPROACH Both quantitative and qualitative data will be used to analyse the change in teaching practice. Qualitative data in the form of student questionnaires during the disaster week and individual reflections once the week was completed will be used to summarise student perceptions of the scenario to enhance communication skills. Quantitative data in the form of student completions will be compared with previous years. Final (communication) marks will also be compared though this is incidental to the research. ACTUAL OR ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES Student completions of key objectives within communication rose (final statistics yet to be given) Communication tutors who help run the course were satisfied that the quality of the work was at least on a par if not better than previous years (final marks yet to be determined) The importance and self-awareness of communication skills within engineering students has increased as evidenced in student reflections. SUMMARY Students enjoyed the disaster week scenario, being placed in a highly intense environment with students they do not normally work with. Students successfully managed the scenario submitting components for assessment as the week passed. Completions of assessment were very good, as well as increased student perceptions of the role of communication within an engineering environment. Disaster week was counted as a success by all involved (engineering/communication tutors & students) and will run again next year.

Item Type:Paper presented at a conference, workshop or other event, and published in the proceedings
Keywords that describe the item:Engineering Communication, Problem Based Learning, Blended Learning, Group Work
Subjects:L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1028 Education Research
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Divisions:Schools > Centre for Engineering and Industrial Design
ID Code:3615
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Deposited On:18 Dec 2014 00:25
Last Modified:28 Sep 2018 04:06

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