Enhancing student learning experience and diversity of learning styles through project based learning (pbl) and continuous assessment (ca)
Enhancing Student Learning Experience andDiversity of Learning Styles Through ProjectBased Learning (PBL) and ContinuousAssessment (CA) A Qualitative Study Kevin Furlong - DIT
Description of the Research Action Research Methodology Ran over a One-Year Period – 48 Level 6 Participants
Description of the Research Methods Start of term questionnaires Observational diaries Reflective diaries End of term questionnaires Focus groups & Individual Interviews Exam results
Description of the Research Data Codingand Analysis Continuous Process over Three Action Research Cyclical Phases
Main Aim of the ResearchThe main aim of the research project was toestablish if a deeper understanding andapplication of Building Services (BS) AppliedCalculations could be achieved through theimplementation of Project-Based Learning (PBL)with continuous and formative assessment.
Previous Mathematical Experiences Leaving Certificate – 83% Junior Certificate – 17% Research Literature - The „Maths Problem‟ Applied Calculations and Mathematics – Fundamental to Engineering Less than 5% of Participants would use calculations to design part of a BS System!
Current Programme Assessment Strategy: Summative Closed Book Time Constrained ExaminationResearch Assessment Strategy: Construction Project issued to Students at start of term Project Brief Issued Weekly Implementation of Real-World Mathematical Design Tasks Evaluation of other Options to Complete the Tasks Solutions to Tasks adjusted to changing circumstances Discussion of Final Design Submissions Self and Peer Assessment Continuous and High Quality Formative Assessment / FeedbackAssessment within project-based learning must involve methodsthat focus on understanding rather than just „memory recall‟, „rightanswers‟ and „surface learning‟.
Typical Weekly Design Tasks Project BriefBuilding Services Project – Sheet No. 1Using recommended Design Calculations for Area, Volume and Capacity within the project building; determine thefollowing:Area: (m2)1. The living room, hall and kitchen are to be heated using underfloor heating pipework, find the following;2. The amount of pipe to be ordered if you need 5m of pipe per m2 of floor area.3. The total amount of heat emitted into the room if the output from the underfloor heating installation is 100W/m2.4. The areas of all the walls, floors and ceilings upstairs will need to be known to work out the radiator sizes for these rooms later on – number all of these fabrics and get the areas of them.Volume: (m3)1. The concrete covering the underfloor heating pipework is required to 120mm thick. How much concrete will need to be ordered for this job.2. The volume of all the rooms upstairs will need to be known in order to work out the radiator sizes for these rooms later on – name all of these rooms and get the volume of each of them.3. An extract fan is required for the downstairs toilet. In order to select the correct fan the volume of air in the room is needed. Calculate the total volume of air in this room.Capacity: (Litres)1. The cold water storage cistern is to be situated within the attic space. The recommended storage capacity is 100 litres per bedroom; calculate the size of the cistern required. An allowance of 150mm should be made for the actual capacity.2. Calculate the weight of the cold water storage cistern when it is full.3. A cylindrical oil storage tank is installed outside the house to feed the oil fired boiler. It measures 3.15m long and 1800mm in diameter. How much oil will need to be ordered to fill this tank.4. If the oil tanker is delivering oil at a rate of 4 litres per second, how long will it take to fill the oil tank.5. An indirect hot water storage cylinder is to be fitted under the stairs. It measures 900mm in diameter and 1.2m in height; what is the capacity of the cylinder if the heating coil within takes up 0.2m3 of space.This self assessment worksheet comprises just a few of the Building Services calculations that can be worked out by usingthe simple formulas for area, volume and capacity.More Building Services self-assessment tasks will follow on the next self assessment sheet.
Typical Weekly Design Tasks Project BriefBuilding Services Project – Sheet No. 3A complete LPHW heating system is to be designed for the project building:Use the following information for your design:All internal room temperatures are 210CThe external design temperature is -3oCU-Values – W/m2oCSolid Floors – 1.01 W/m2oCTimber Floors – 2.14 W/m2oCExternal Walls – 3.50 W/m2oCInternal walls – 3.65 W/m2oCWindows – 4.12 W/m2oCUpstairs Ceilings – 3.5 W/m2oCInternal Doors – 3.65 W/m2oCExternal Doors – 3.50 W/m2oCAir Change RatesBedrooms – 1 AC / hLiving Room – 1.5 AC /hKitchen – 2.5 AC / hBathrooms – 3.0 AC / hHall – 1.5 AC / hCylinder Capacity – 200 litres
Findings:Qualitative Data gathered from – Questionnaires (Start andEnd of Term), Focus Groups, Interviews, Observation &Reflective Diaries, Student Presentations and SubmissionsSignificant Improvement the following; Mathematical Competence Applied BS Calculations and Mathematical Understanding Mathematical Confidence Motivation Learning ResponsibilityNoticeable Improvements in the following; Group Participation Communication Reflective Learning Critical Thinking Self and Peer Assessment Attendance
Findings:Quantitative Data gathered from – Questionnaires,Summative Examination Results.Quantitative Data determining the following; Initial Level of Mathematical Experience End of Term Summary Final Summative Examination Results Final Summative Examination Results Comparison with Previous Years Number of Students Attempting Mathematical Questions Number of Students answering Mathematical Questions correctly
Typical Qualitative / Quantitative Analysis:Q 2. Having done this course do you now feel more confident aboutusing Building Services Applied Calculations;This question while linking back to question No. 9 in the initialquestionnaire also seeks to find out if students would be now morelikely to use applied calculations in the future
Typical Qualitative / Quantitative Analysis:Q 3. Would you consider your current understanding of appliedcalculations and mathematics has improved since doing this course;This question while linking back to question No‟s. 3, 11, & 12 in theinitial questionnaire also seeks to establish the effect that PBL may behaving with these students
Findings in Terms of PBL: Measured through weekly submissions of solutions to tasks and problems Large degree of independent learning and self- assessment built into the projects. Project-work in turn acted as a test and a presentation of students learning and understanding. Formative and Summative Informative Constructing a concrete artefact
Findings in Terms of PBL: Thinking through the steps of the construction process and complete tasks in a logical sequence (Real-World). Sequential, logical and reflective path to be followed in this process, and where an understanding had to be achieved in order to progress through the design. The reason for Rote learning was practically removed.
Qualitative Analysis: Throughout the research the attitude of the students was, with very few exceptions, very positive. Among the contributing factors, was the awareness that they were in charge of their own learning. The feeling of freedom in planning and carrying out the project-work / learning. Genuine willingness and interest in learning among the students where they see a relationship to their discipline, and a means of applying this knowledge to real-life practical situations. The highest motivational aspect to learning that emerged from the findings came from the authenticity of the projects, and their relevance to real world design work and problems.
Qualitative Analysis: Analysis of the data showed that although their mathematical ability was sufficient to learn mathematics and applied calculations for previous summative assessments, the relationship between these calculations and real-world industry tasks was not evident to most students.Student Comments:“I always had the ability to do maths in my exams, but I didn’tknow why I was doing them”“I didn’t know where in industry these calculations could beused, they were just written on the board and we were told tofollow them for the exam”.“I could now see what the calculations were doing in the projectbuilding”;
Student Comments:“when I did heat-loss calculations before I finished with a numberthat meant nothing, this time I had to go and find a heat-emitterto match and also make sure it would fit in the space, now itmeans something to me”“if we were assessed on this it would be much better and wewould learn far more than trying to remember questions”“it would be great to see how all the different systems join upwith each other in a building, at the moment we just doeverything separately for examinations, it is just read out and Ican never see how they all link together”.
Comments & Findings aligning to Literature Often the words „deep‟ and „surface‟ are used to describe approaches to learning, but more precisely they are approaches to „assessment‟. Most students can adopt either surface or deep approaches to their learning and one of the most important influences on which approach they take is course design and assessment. It is assessment that frames learning, creates learning activity and is the driving force for motivation, types of learning and teaching, and understanding. In many cases it is assessment that has more impact on learning than does teaching. Preparing engineering students for real-life work should involve engaging them in tasks to make complex judgements about their own work and for making decisions in uncertain and unpredictable circumstances in which they will find themselves in the future.
Comments & Findings aligning to Literature PBL and CA involves removing assessment from the domain of the assessors into the hands of the learners. With very few exceptions, the students who participated in this study agreed that they found the PBL method of learning, teaching and assessment more productive to their learning needs, more engaging through challenging real-life design work, and more resourceful in providing them with the competencies they need to work within their chosen discipline. Society now demands more than passive graduates who have complied with a rigid regime, and employers and professional groups are placing expectations on institutions to deliver graduates who are prepared for and can cope with the real world of work. Student-centred learning can foster knowledgeable, competent, reflective and committed learners, that are more prepared for the unorthodox type of real work problems that are associated with engineering disciplines.
Final Comments:Students may escape from poor teaching through theirown activities, but they are trapped by theconsequences of poor assessment, as it is somethingthey are required to endure if they want to graduate(Boud, 2006).It is with one of these student participants that I leavethe final remark.“I remember every project that I have everdone, I sat an exam last Friday and I can’tremember what was in it.”
Thank you for listening Questions? Kevin Furlong – DIT