Designing for Diversity: a Common First Year in a PBL Program

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Gabb, Roger, Ozansoy, Cagil ORCID: 0000-0002-9375-9571, Nguyen, Thinh B, Paks, Mariuz, Shi, Hao and Thorn, Richard (2010) Designing for Diversity: a Common First Year in a PBL Program. In: Joint International IGIP-SEFI Annual Conference 2010, 19-22 September 2010, Trnava, Slovakia. (Unpublished)


For five years, Victoria University has been working towards an approach to problem-based learning (PBL) in its engineering courses that is responsive to the high level of diversity in its students. While most are Australian residents, many were born in other countries, have non-English language backgrounds, come from low-income areas and are the first in their family to attend university. In response to this diversity, the new curriculum model for all Victoria University BEng courses includes a common first year, a managed transition to university learning, a staged introduction to PBL and a strong emphasis on community-based and industry-based projects. It is based on sound pedagogical principles but the effectiveness of any curriculum is determined by how well it performs in practice. The new common first year was introduced in March 2010. This paper presents the key features of the new curriculum, with particular emphasis on the design of the first year program, and describes some of the lessons learnt during its first semester of operation. This includes a summary of student feedback collected by means of a questionnaire administered half way through the semester. The main findings indicate a general acceptance of the key features of the common first year and a plea for better communication and organisation. A major continuing challenge is the early identification of students at risk of failing or withdrawing, the timely diagnosis of their main need(s) and the provision of a range of interventions to meet these needs.

Item type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy
Historical > SEO Classification > 9305 Education and Training Systems
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Engineering and Science
Keywords ResPubID19593, problem based learning, engineering courses, transition, tertiary education, higher education, disadvantaged students, curriculum, European Society for Engineering Education, International Society for Engineering Education
Citations in Scopus 0 - View on Scopus
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