Techniques to encourage interactive student learning in a laboratory setting

Cranston, Gemma; Lock, Gary
June 2012
Engineering Education;Jun2012, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p2
Academic Journal
Undergraduate engineering lectures are often supplemented with experimental laboratories and, at the 21st century university, such practical classes often involve large groups. It is important that these sessions are interactive, not passive, and that students are encouraged to participate throughout the laboratory to ensure that their learning experience is maximised. A variety of teaching techniques have been applied to an undergraduate fluid mechanics laboratory, aimed at enhancing student contribution and participatory learning. Large scale graphs have been used to immediately illustrate the collected data, giving students opportunities to assess and discuss their meaning. Question sheets have encouraged undergraduates to consider experimental procedures and apparatus, keeping them active. The use of an audience response system as part of the plenary has been particularly successful, ensuring that students are engaged right to the very end of the laboratory and encouraging them to participate actively by answering multiple choice questions. Students can assess their personal scores online after the laboratory session, getting instant positive feedback from the class. Although the methods are discussed in the context of a fluid mechanics laboratory, these techniques would be widely beneficial to other undergraduate engineering and science laboratory exercises.


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