This paper was presented at the 2008 Engineering Conference - Innovation Good Practice and Research in Engineering Education.
The paper describes a successful attempt to teach the subject area of manufacturing technology more effectively by recognising and addressing the different learning styles of a learner group. A twofold strategy has been adopted. Firstly to create a learning environment depicting the ‘manufacturing system’ being studied by incorporating its key elements viz. real products and associated tooling parts together with machinery and the processes involved vividly communicated through a variety of video clips. Secondly design and conduct a group activity within the learning environment generating enthusiasm and facilitating active learning with adequate tutor support for learner motivation and sustained attention with the teaching being enhanced by counterpart PowerPoint slides. The technique builds upon the premise that the students’ understanding of engineering concepts is likely to be much better if they can relate them immediately to the context.
In planning the session the core principle of constructive alignment has been adhered to i.e. designing the teaching process to positively engage students in the learning activity with primary focus on achieving the intended learning outcomes. In developing the delivery strategy we have changed our approach from the previous tutorcentred activity to a more student–based activity with the tutor adopting mainly a facilitator role in the latter. These are discussed in the paper and the pros and cons of different approaches evaluated. The scope and potential for application of the concept of ‘teaching in simulated semiindustrial learning environments’ to other engineering subject areas are highlighted through further examples.