Building Staff Awareness of Communication Education in the PBL Approach

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Mphande, Charles, Simcock, Alec L, Shi, Juan, Bronson, Paul and Ives, Robert (2007) Building Staff Awareness of Communication Education in the PBL Approach. In: International Problem-Based Learning Symposium 2007 : Reinventing PBL, 7 to 9 March 2007. Centre for Educational Development, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore, pp. 44-59.


The engineering industry today has made increasing demands for graduates with both technical knowledge, communication and other social skills. Engineers Australia has particularly embraced communication as an attribute that is key to the engineering industry. The traditional approach has not readily addressed the need to integrate communication and the more technical skills. As a result engineering educators are increasingly turning to various versions of the PBL (Problem Based Learning) approach which in many ways combines these skills i n a radical way. Traditionally engineering staff have had little to do with issues of communication. However, by adopting PBL as a teaching/learning app roach, communication is now an integral part of the engineering course. As a r esult, the requirement to train staff to handle this additional need, which formerly was not part of their brief, has arisen. At Victoria University, Australia, it was decided that staff undergo professional development to update their knowledge of the teachi ng and learning of written and oral communication skills and aspects of language e ducation. This ongoing workshop program is intended to orient staff in recognising the student learning strategies and learning style preferences to be able to assist the learners to develop lifelong learning skills, particularly concerning oral and written co mmunication. In order for this program to be successful, it was recognised that st aff skilled in language education would be needed to share their expertise with the e ngineers. Exploiting the many parallels that exist between co mmunicative language teaching and PBL, an innovative interdisciplinary collaborat ion was developed. In this program the engineering staff are given orientation to language education to be able to assist learners develop learner autonomy particular ly in communicative competence. This orientation of engineering staff to language e ducation and communication as a discipline is a shift towards holistic engineering education within the PBL approach.

Item type Book Section
Official URL
ISBN 9789810577186
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 communication skills, language skills, cultures of learning, knowledge, teaching, learning strategies, learning styles, learner problems, self-directed learning, assessment criteria, Victoria University, Melbourne
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