Physics practicals for distance education in an undergraduate engineering course
Long, John M., Stannard, Warren B., Chenery, Ken and Joordens, Matthews A. 2012, Physics practicals for distance education in an undergraduate engineering course, in AAEE 2012 : The profession of engineering education, advancing teaching, research and careers : Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, ESER group, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Vic., pp. 691-701.
BACKGROUND : Providing engineering practicals to undergraduates by means of distance education is a significant challenge. The past 30 years have seen the rapid development of the distance education. For many years, Deakin University has offered a full Bachelor of Engineering degree programme via distance education. All first-year students study a unit in physics. This unit includes practicals. Providing practical experiences to students is distance education’s greatest challenge.
PURPOSE : The purpose of this work was to develop the means for off-campus students to complete practical exercises in first-year engineering physics. The solution to the problem also had to comply with accreditation requirements set by Engineers Australia.
METHOD : The long-term solution to the problem was running on-campus lab classes either on weekends or as part of the annual first-year residential school for engineering professional practice. Students work was assessed by means of standard laboratory reports. On-campus marks and off-campus lab marks have been collected and compared over the past 12 years.
RESULTS : The results indicate that the off-campus lab experience is similar to the on-campus experience. Marks for the two cohorts were comparable. Those few students who completed their pracs at home faced and overcame significant challenges.
CONCLUSIONS : We found that performance in their lab reports for off-campus students was similar to that of the on-campus students. Accreditation requirements has shifted the focus from developing activities that students could perform at home to offering timely and efficient on-campus lab classes for off-campus students. Future work will focus on on-campus lab classes in accordance with accreditation requirements and perhaps on-line broadcasts of prac classes for those students who cannot attend lab on-campus.
Field of Research
120403 Engineering Design Methods
Socio Economic Objective
930599 Education and Training Systems not elsewhere classified
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