Please find below an outline of projects currently being undertaken by the Engineering Education Research Group.
For further details about any of
these projects please contact Dr Robin Clark, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr Jane Andrews, email@example.com
Evaluation of Project Based Learning (more
project we have acted as a ‘fly on the wall’. Taking the role of ‘critical
friend’ we have closely following the CDIO programme has it has been rolled out
across the School recording staff and students perceptions as the programme has
research findings have indicated that the ‘hands on’ nature of CDIO is
equipping Aston students with the high level, transferable skills required of
today’s engineers. Furthermore, the opportunity for students to link theory to
practice means that the main issues are taught in a way that brings theory to
Two conference papers about our work can be found by clicking on the following links: CDIO-1 and CDIO-2
Staff training for innovative learning and
at how staff are prepared for innovative teaching in engineering entails
working closely with key staff to identify individual and group training needs.
Working with staff are developing several innovative learning and teaching approaches
aimed specifically at improving engineering education. Such approaches are
being continually evaluated, reviewed and improved.
outlining one of the Workshops we have conducted in this area can be found by
following this link: Building Bridges for Future Sustainability? Breaching the research-teaching nexus in Engineering Education
The importance of relationships, variety and
synergy in engineering education
on pedagogical theory and practical learning and teaching experiences, a new
pedagogical approach to learning and teaching has been developed. Aimed at
promoting Scholarship within Engineering Education and beyond this approach
comprises three core concepts, ‘relationships’, variety’ and ‘synergy’. Each of
these concepts are taken account of at each stage of the learning process and
embedded into the teaching process. The success of the approach has been
critically analysed and a journal article submitted to a leading engineering
have been identified as key to the student experience. Such relationships
include between teachers and learners, students and their peers, and students
and other members of staff. The study has shown how important it is that
students build good relationships and in doing so acquire a sense of
relates to the use of a range of different learning and teaching approaches in
engineering education. Such approaches included work-based learning, formal
lectures, field visits, laboratory work, tutorials and electronic learning. Our
research has shown that through the use of a variety of different learning
approaches, students are kept engaged and the learning ‘fresh’.
involves aligning the module and programme outcomes to the wider needs and
expectations of all the relevant stakeholders including employers, academics,
professional bodies and students. Our research has shown that by making
learning ‘real’ and by providing realistic and grounded learning objectives,
engineering education at Aston provides work-ready graduates able to fulfil the
needs of future employers.
papers showing our work to date in this area can be found by clicking the following links: Bringing Engineering Education to Life – An Empirical Approach and Relationships, Variety & Synergy: Promoting Scholarship in Engineering Education
Bringing business and engineering together
research in this area is looking at the best way of bringing business and
engineering together so as to inform the curriculum. The aim of this study is
to develop a ‘best practice’ toolkit that can be used in the future by all
stakeholders to develop and build relationships for the betterment of society.
Attributes of the graduate engineers of the
of the study we have interviewed several recent graduates in an attempt to
determine the skills they are required to possess when entering the workplace.
The findings of this are being fed back into engineering education to enable
the university to equip students with the skills and competencies they will
need upon graduation.
Introducing engineering at primary school
in this area involves working closely with several of the country’s leading
primary level engineering education providers. We believe that if society is
going to avoid future shortages of engineers, it is important to ignite
children’s engineering imaginations at an early age. Two research papers that we have
written about our work in this area can be found by clicking the following links:
Today’s pupils, tomorrow’s engineers! Pedagogy and policy: a UK perspective
Researching primary engineering education: UK perspectives, an exploratory study
Outreach to schools – what works and why?
linked to our engineering at primary school level project, we are involved in
evaluating outreach in schools. Looking closely at the outreach work that
universities conduct in schools, we are in the process of identifying ‘what
works’, ‘how it works’, and ‘why it works’. It is intended that the findings of
this project will enable us to inform future outreach practice so that
universities are able to make a more worthwhile contribution to schools.
Student perceptions of engineering
past three years we have conducted several surveys of our own students –
finding out what they think about engineering and engineering education. The
finding from this work is being continually fed back to academic and support
staff and used to inform and improve learning and teaching.
conference paper discussing out work in this area can be found at: BalancingExpectations in Engineering Education: Enhancing Student Experiencesthrough Empirical Research - A Comparative Analysis
Peer mentoring at transition
conducted a large study looking at the vital role played by peer mentoring in
helping new students make the transition from school or further education into
university. The findings of this project reinforce other work which suggests
that new students need to feel a sense of ‘belonging’ and that relationships
are key to this. The
final project report and other outputs can be found by clicking on the
following links: Project Report, Institutional Manual & Recruitment Toolkit and Evaluation Toolkit.
conference paper showing our findings can be found by following this link: Tackling Transition: Peer mentoring as a route to student success: The Findings of a Multi-Case Study Research Project
You may also read our related paper entitled Peer Mentoring: The Route to Retention & Success in Higher Education?
the 3rd November 2011 the Engineering Education Research Group
hosted a seminar disseminating our findings in this area at Aston University.
Entitled “Tackling Transition: Peer mentoring as a route to student success:
The Findings of a Multi-Case Study Research Project” the seminar was
sponsored by the HEA. The presentations and other documents from the seminar
can be found by clicking on this link: HEA-Outputs.
Relationships between industry and academia –
what are the characteristics for success?
Our work in
this area involves critiquing the relationships between industry and academia.
By critically evaluating how relationships between industry and academia are
developed and maintained we are aiming to produce useful and usable information
which will assist industry and academic build successful and fruitful
at various aspects of work-based learning in industry and academia, this study
involves critiquing all aspects of work-based learning including assessment and
evaluation, aligning academic and employment needs, and meeting professional
body requirements. Currently focusing on professional education in engineering
our research is being used to continually evaluate and improve the curriculum.
Follow this link for a conference paper outlining our work
in this area: A Matter of Professionalism? Reflection & Reflexivity in Continuing Engineering Education & Practice