CONCEPTS ONLY PLEASE! INNOVATING A FIRST YEAR ENGINEERING COURSE
AbstractMSCI 100, a first year course dedicated to Management Engineering, introduces the main concepts of this discipline to students in their first term. The course’s main goals are introducing core principles that students will apply throughout their undergraduate studies and also preparing them for their first co-operative education term. In Fall 2015, this course was pedagogically redesigned based on authentic self-directed learning, accommodating different learners, and providing students with opportunities to develop professional skills (especially teamwork, project planning, time management and critical thinking).
The course was designed holistically with emphasis on integrating concepts and communicating the course plan to students. Although engineering design was an inherent part of the course, there were no memory-driven tests and no math. The course’s learning outcomes were instead formulated around students’ understanding of improving effectiveness and efficiency in various facets of business through the development of their professional skills.
There were numerous teaching innovations from the perspective of a first year engineering course. The essence of many course deliverables was for students to experience constructive failure-recovery cycles. This allowed them to learn from their mistakes as they completed case study challenges, hands-on activities, unique assessments and a final team project requiring integration of knowledge and skills. These activities were supported by various groups on campus.
A panel of educators was formed near the end of the term so students could reflect on their learning process and be provided with the educators' feedback.. Moreover, the results from the course evaluations indicated that the restructuring of MSCI 100 was largely successful. Most students were able to fully grasp fundamental concepts and apply critical thinking skills. In this paper, we share reasons for redesigning the course, our experience in delivery and assessment, the impact of different teaching and learning methods and finally feedback on switching to in-depth, student-centered learning.