Developing Staff Awareness of Communication Competency and Reviewing Alternative Assessment in PBL

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Bronson, Paul, Ives, Robert, Mphande, Charles, Shi, Juan and Simcock, Alec L (2007) Developing Staff Awareness of Communication Competency and Reviewing Alternative Assessment in PBL. In: International Conference on Engineering Education and Research (iCEER) 2007 : Innovations in information and communication technologies, 2-7 December 2007, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria.


Australian Engineering Industry today demands graduates that have highly developed communication skills (written, oral and interpersonal). Traditional modes of teaching have, however, often overlooked the importance of these skills and as a result many graduates have had difficulties finding work or adjusting to workforce requirements. This deficiency was one of the more important motivators for the decision to incorporate Problem Based Learning (PBL) into all of the undergraduate engineering programs at Victoria University. The introduction of PBL was thus intended to facilitate the development of students’ generic skills, whilst maintaining technical competence, and hence increase their employability. In order to improve the understanding of student communicative competence, it was recognised that engineering staff would need to enhance their own skills in the teaching of language and communications skills. To support this, a series of workshops on education theory and the teaching of communications skills were run in 2006. As well as covering the concepts and vocabulary of language education, these workshops covered an analysis of how student language and associated social skills could be evaluated and improved. This discussion was supportive to a review of the assessment of PBL units in the School of Electrical Engineering (SEE) by the team developing the Second Year PBL units. In the First Year units in 2006 a system using Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome (SOLO) had been used in the assessment of PBL units of study. As a consequence of discussions in the workshops this was enhanced by the development of Rubrics. This created a “Rubric informed SOLO” mechanism which was used in semester 1 of 2007 for second year students.

Item type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
ISBN 978097412527X
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy
Historical > FOR Classification > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Engineering and Science
Keywords problem based learning, Victoria University, Melbourne, generic skills, language and communication skills, vocabulary
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