Increasing student confidence and motivation in a project-based Machine Construction and Mechatronics course

DS 85-2: Proceedings of NordDesign 2016, Volume 2, Trondheim, Norway, 10th - 12th August 2016

Year: 2016
Editor: Boks, Casper; Sigurjonsson, Johannes; Steinert, Martin; Vis, Carlijn; Wulvik, Andreas
Author: Slĺttsveen, Kristoffer Bjřrnerud; Steinert, Martin; Aasland, Knut Einar
Series: NordDESIGN
Institution: NTNU, Norway
Section: Educational Perspectives
Page(s): 178-187
ISBN: 978-1-904670-80-3

Abstract

This paper describes an exercise project implemented in a 7th semester mechatronics course for mechanical engineers. Its intention is to teach technical know-how, theoretical understanding, practical experience and to increase confidence in the students. This is achieved by encouraging exploration, practical work and to let the students’ experience achievement in a new subject early in the semester. The project spanned over 4 four weeks and the task was to build an Arduino based robot that reacts on input from minimum two sensors. Previous years‘ exercise routine has been a teacher driven activity that left little creative freedom for the students. However, by adopting ideas from both project-based learning (PBL) and design thinking (DT) the focus has changed. Creative confidence or creative self-efficacy is one of the most important aspects for the students to develop, along with a good understanding of the theory. As an experiment, we incorporated these elements in the exercise routine of the course. The intent was to increase the students’ confidence in the theoretical elements of the course and in their abilities to solve relevant problems. There were 71 students in the course with a gender distribution of 59 male and 12 female. Measurements were done using a questionnaire (n=43) answered just after the project was finished, 36 male and 7 female. The results presented in this paper are based on dichotomous items from the questionnaire. The descriptive results show an increase of motivation for learning mechatronics (88.4%), increased confidence in translating theory to practice (79.1%) and high satisfaction on individual performance in the project (82.9%). This indicates that the project was successful. The complete dataset and the exercise project is discussed further in the full paper.

Keywords: Engineering education, mechatronics education, confidence, motivation

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