Introducing a project-based assignment in a traditionally taught engineering course
This study seeks to explore whether a combination of traditional teaching methods with project-based learning (PBL) activities can improve the student learning experience in an engineering course of soil mechanics. As an alternative to the traditional type of assignment that consisted of several textbook problems, a project-based assignment was introduced in 2015 so that students could work on real-world geotechnical problems throughout the whole semester. Students were permitted to choose whether they would undertake the project-based assignment or the traditional one, thus forming the ‘project’ and ‘non-project’ groups, respectively. The academic performance of these two groups was compared on the basis of student marks while the student experience was evaluated through a series of interviews. The data collected over 3 years indicated that students from both groups had very similar academic performances; however, the students who completed the project-based assignment reported better engagement in the learning process as they enjoyed the opportunity to experience the practical aspects of soil mechanics. The obtained results also revealed low motivation among students to embrace new learning approaches such as PBL, as the majority of them preferred more traditional methods of teaching.
European Journal of Engineering Education
Engineering not elsewhere classified