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Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Vanhatalo, Mikko; Lehtonen, Timo; Halikka, Antero; Pakkanen, Jarkko; Juuti, Tero
This article is about the observations made at a Product Development Project course which is aimed for the students at the later phase of their Master studies. The course structure is based on lectures and on an extensive group assignment that processes a given case product. The assignment final outcome is a project plan covering the whole design and production phases of the case product.
The assignment is based on the Problem Based Learning, and the detailed guidance of the groups is minimal. The assignment contains intermediate tasks which are evaluated separately. There exist tools for the given tasks, but at the course none of those are taught in detail way. Some examples are shown, but the idea was that the groups could freely choose a tool which they find most suitable for them. Some groups even created their own tools or modified the existing ones.
In order to divide the students into effective project teams an appropriate team role self-assessment test and questionnaire was applied. Meredith Belbin has created a team role theory based on role behaviour in team work. For this course there was applied a questionnaire mainly followed the Belbin’s principles. The roles were visualized by branches of a star pattern on the map with four quarters. Each role branch on the pattern indicates whether the interest of a person favours either human or rational and/or either practical or theoretical work. The student groups were built of the population of fifty students in a way that each of the groups contained the most comprehensive roles collected according to the personal role patterns.
The course grading is based on the intermediate tasks grading and to individual contribution to the tasks. The quality of the tasks reports are graded by the teachers and members of each group determine their own workload within the group in current task. The individual final values are calculated based on how much the student has put effort in the task and what was the grading for that.
When students were allowed to form the groups by themselves and also the effect of an assignment was less to the grading, students tend to optimise their work to find the minimal level of the workload. Since we appreciate just the opposite activity from the students the course arrangements were changed to the above mentioned methods. The team role self-assessment as the base for student group division created efficient groups which achieved better than average. The aim of the used grading method is to direct the students to work diligently and to aim for the best possible results. The grading does not measure the level of actual learning, but how well the groups understand the given problem and how well they solve it.
The final outcomes of the assignments showed that the new means of forming groups, new assignment evaluation method, and fuzzy problem setting combined to merely prescriptive guidance of the groups improved the course significantly.
The London E&PDE2011 conference is a unique opportunity for educators, practitioners and students from design-related fields to meet and exchange experiences in connecting design and business through creativity and innovation. This, the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, will be held at City University, London, an educational institution for business and the professions, conveniently located in Central London - one of the most vibrant business and design...