Fostering Self-Directed Learning in Engineering Undergraduates: A Collaborative Approach

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This paper highlights the implementation of a collaborative learning method in a final-year engineering module at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China. To achieve this, students were grouped into pairs based on their preferences, and they worked together throughout the semester on weekly unassessed problems and research assignments. The traditional seminar style was replaced with interactive tutorials held in a teaching lab, where students were presented with engineering design problems and encouraged to develop solutions together. To assess the effectiveness of the collaborative learning approach, a survey consisting of both Likert scale and open-ended questions was administered to 52 students. The aim was to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the student's perceptions of the collaborative learning approach, how it was implemented in different module exercises, and its impact on their learning experience and skill development. The results indicated that incorporating collaborative learning strategies with technology positively affected how engineering modules were taught and that developing skills such as communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking made the classes more enjoyable and increased student engagement and confidence. Overall, the findings suggest collaborative learning is a valuable pedagogical approach that should be utilized more frequently in engineering education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTowards a Hybrid, Flexible and Socially Engaged Higher Education
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-51979-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-51978-9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024
EventInternational Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning - Hotel NH Ventas, Madrid, Spain
Duration: 26 Sept 202329 Sept 2023
Conference number: 26


ConferenceInternational Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning


  • Engineering education
  • collaborative learning
  • interactive learning
  • student engagement


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