Portable Hands-On Experiments in Geotechnical Education

Wolfgang Fellin, Barbara Schneider-Muntau*, Getraud Medicus, Division of Geotechnical and Tunnel Engineering, Institute of Infrastructure, Department of Engineering Science, University of Innsbruck, Austria

An earlier version of this paper was awarded the IUT Poster Prize for 2015

Abstract

This article focuses on portable, hands-on experiments in geotechnical engineering that serve as an entry point into the tutorials in Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering at the University of Innsbruck. Ten small portable geotechnical experiments were developed to demonstrate geo-mechanical relations during class in a clear and comprehensible way. To determine the degree of student acceptance and possible learning benefits, the experiments were evaluated with a questionnaire. This evaluation showed that experiments in geo-mechanical engineering were well received and are appropriate visualization tools. The experiments were highly appreciated by the students, who reported that they helped to make the course material more comprehensible and clear.

Keywords: student engagement, STEM education, active learning

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How University Teachers Perceive Incentives and Obstacles in Modernizing Their Teaching

Barica Marentič Požarnik,* Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Abstract

What obstacles impede introducing necessary innovations in teaching in higher education? What can be done to overcome them? These basic questions were analyzed on the basis of opinions gathered from five groups of participants from different disciplines that attended a course on improving university teaching at the University of Ljubljana in 2013-2014. Those findings cannot be generalized, as participants represented a specially motivated group of teachers (they volunteered to attend the course). Nevertheless, they can give us some valuable insights into forces that shape university teachers’ everyday teaching practice.

Keywords: pedagogical excellence, faculty incentives,  student evaluations

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Students’ Engagement in the Quality Assurance Procedures in Slovenian Higher Education

Katarina Aškerc,* Center of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programs, and Alenka Braček Lalić, Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Slovenia

Abstract

Slovenian higher education (hereafter HE) legislation ensures that students are relatively well integrated in different evaluation procedures as well as in decision- making on the national and on the institutional level. However, the analysis of the Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency’s (SQAA) 2013 report on quality in Slovenian higher education, which contains the evaluation of more than 100 reports, indicated that only one part of the students’ population is directly integrated in the higher education development and quality assurance (QA) procedures prepared by the SQAA experts on a basis of external evaluations, site visits, and initial accreditation procedures of Slovenian study programs and higher education institutions (HEI), and a pilot research conducted among 422 students of Slovenian HEIs.

Keywords: student engagement, institutional governance, pedagogical excellence

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Computer Ethics: Its Necessity and Its Integration into the Curriculum

Marion Ben-Jacob,* Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Mercy College, USA

Abstract

Technological advances of this millennium have enabled enhanced learning experiences for students. Technology has and continues to be integrated into the educational environment from many perspectives and to different degrees. However, to facilitate the appropriate use of the power of technology in student learning, we need to integrate the study of computer ethics into the curriculum. This paper addresses the importance of computer ethics and discusses methodology and pedagogy that support student engagement, student-faculty teamwork, student assessment of the quality of the instruction, and the learning of this essential subject.

Keywords: student engagement, assessment, instructional technology, academic integrity

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A Critical Consideration of, and Research Agenda for, the Approach of “Students as Partners”

Colin Bryson,* Ruth Furlonger, and Fae Rinaldo-Langridge, Combined Honours Centre, Newcastle University, United Kingdom

Abstract

This paper that critically reviews the case for faculty-student partnership. We propose that fostering deeper engagement in students is the pre-requisite for transformational learning. The approach of students as partners may develop, and catalyse, such strong engagement. Thus far, what research there is on partnership has focused on a model of partnership in which a small number of students work with individual staff (Model A). This model has benefits but also defects. We propose a second model of partnership (Model B) where the intention is to involve all students in partnership. This offers a more inclusive approach to partnership through working with students in the curriculum itself. We consider and problematize the issues raised by both models of partnership and offer a research agenda.

Keywords: faculty-student partnership, student engagement

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Bridging the Gap between University and Business: The ESAU Project

Néstor Lázaro,* Coordinator of the ESAU Project, Ana Bilbao-Goyoaga, Department of English and German Philology, Irene Barainca, Department of Financial Economy I, Pedro Gómez, Department of Financial Economy II, Izaskun Larrieta and Lorea Magureri, Department of Business Innovation and Management Assessment, Business School of Bilbao, University of the Basque Country, Spain

Abstract

Practice Firms Applied to University (ESAU) is a groundbreaking learning methodology in university education, with wide international projection and development. The Business School of Bilbao (University of the Basque Country – UPV/EHU) pioneers its implementation in Spain. Students participating in the ESAU project leave the conventional classroom to enter a company created and run by them in an international market. Under the motto “learning by doing, learning by working” this teaching tool rests on two methodological cornerstones: cooperative learning and learning based on problems or projects. Students thus become the main agents of their own learning, involved in the innovation process by facing situations of the real business world and collaborating in methodology design and improvement. We consider these key features that make the methodology bidirectional, dynamic, and customized to the particular needs of the team.

Keywords: business education, student engagement, problem-based learning

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Small Steps over Time: Energizing Students by Infusing Innovative Practices into Universities within a Transitional Country

Judy S. Richardson, Language Center, South Eastern European University, Macedonia, and Virginia Commonwealth University, USA

Abstract

Innovation energizes instruction, transcending a lecture-only and often boring approach to learning. But when students and professors are entrenched in a professor-centered system, how can change be accomplished? This paper explains, via examples and stories, practices university students have identified that energize their learning process. These practices are greatly effective but not difficult for professors to implement, if blended into a traditional model. The study, conducted in English Foreign Language methods courses, is mostly qualitative with quantitative aspects. For a country in transition, faced with many new regulations, small steps over time can make a difference in fostering student engagement.

Keywords: active learning, student engagement, teaching writing, ESL students

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Margins for Flexibility and Zones of Evolution in Transition: Exploring Students’ Conceptions and Experiences of HE Learning

Christine Smith, Quality Enhancement: University Campus Suffolk, UK

Abstract

This paper reports on a study of first year students’ conceptions and experiences of higher education (hereafter HE) and student engagement, linked to the transition from the secondary to the post-secondary learning environment. Facets of student engagement provide a thematic frame for analysis: active learning; academic challenge; staff–student interactions; enriching educational experiences; supportive learning environments; and work–integrated learning. Two findings are highlighted. The first suggests the need for margins of flexibility in transition: aligned to individual student needs, recognizing the diversity of students’ prior academic and life experiences, and by consequence their capacity for independent learning. The second finding emphasizes zones of evolution in transition, that students see engagement as a professionally–oriented construct, in their “becoming” within the disciplinary field and from the outset of their HE study.

Keywords: student engagement, active learning, faculty-student relations

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Gamification for Enhancing Student Motivation: Research Reflections

Richard Taylor, Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates

Abstract

Gamification is the application of game elements (such as rewards, rapid feedback cycles, and competition elements) to a non-game context in order to motivate users and engage them in activities that they would otherwise find boring. It is exactly this aspect of gamification that has attracted the attention of educators seeking to design learning experiences that can engage learners and increase their motivation on a cognitive, emotional and social level. My research project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of gamification on higher education students’ engagement, motivation and academic attainment. This is a research project in progress, so in this paper I will describe the rationale for the study, the theoretical framework, the methodology, and the expected outcomes.

Keywords: gamification, assessment, student engagement, ESL instruction

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The Power of Self-reflection – Travelling the Hero’s Journey

Julie Willans,* Academic Learning Services Unit, CQUniversity, Australia

Abstract

A simple, self-reflective tool that has been used very effectively for well over a decade in a regional Australian pre-university preparatory program (STEPS) is the use of the metaphor of the Hero’s Journey (Vogler, 2007). STEPS teachers use this collaborative tool during term time to assist students in “normalising” their STEPS journey. In tandem with the enjoyment and satisfaction many will likely experience, students are reassured there may be degrees of apprehension and confusion as they occupy a “not so sure space” (Meyer & Land, 2005, p. 5). However, it is in this space that challenge can result in significant personal transformation.

Keywords: learning skills, student engagement, self-reflection
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