Deakin University

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Relationships between civil engineering students’ learning approaches and their perception of curriculum and teaching quality

conference contribution
posted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Kali Prasad Nepal
BACKGROUND: Deakin University graduated its first cohort from four-year undergraduate civil engineering course/program in 2012. The internal annual Course Experience Survey, which has been running annually since 2012, targets to identify the graduating students’ learning approaches and students’ perceptions of the curriculum and teaching quality. Literature suggests that students’ learning outcomes can be achieved more efficiently when the students’ perceptions of curriculum and teaching quality are closely aligned with their learning approaches. Where the students’ approaches to learning and their perception of curriculum and teaching quality are mismatched, a series of frustrations can result for the students that may not only negatively impact their learning achievement but also their learning experience.
PURPOSE OR GOAL: This study explores the relationships between students’ learning approaches and their perception of curriculum and teaching quality in an undergraduate civil engineering program/course. This will help understand whether the curriculum and teaching quality provided by the university have actually accommodated ‘all’ enrolled students in the similar way.
APPROACH: To uncover these relationships, this study adopts questionnaire survey approach to collect response data over a two year period by asking students about their perception through a series of statements. 5-point Likert-scale questionnaire survey (strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree) is developed and responses are collected. The responses are then statistically analysed in order to uncover the relationships between students’ learning approaches and their perception of curriculum and teaching quality provided by the university.
DISCUSSION: Deep learners and surface learners had a statistically different perception of curriculum and teaching quality. These results contradict the assumption that learners will have uniform preferences on the curriculum, teaching quality and the way they deal with the demands of specific learning situations. Anecdotal belief that ‘good course/program curriculum and good teaching approaches are good for all students and vice-versa’ may not be strictly true for contemporary heterogeneous student cohorts.
RECOMMENDATIONS/IMPLICATIONS/CONCLUSION: This finding highlights the challenge for curriculum designer to design appropriate course curriculum and teaching staff to implement efficient teaching strategies that benefit both surface and deep learners, who are usually enrolled together. It may be beneficial to provide diversity and flexibility in the curriculum and teaching approaches (rather than a uniform approach). However, this may demand additional resources and may also be questioned for equity and consistency of education. It is also important to note that due to relatively a small dataset, these results may not be generalised.



Australasian Association for Engineering Education. Conference (26th : 2015 : Geelong, Vic.)


1 - 11




Geelong, Vic.

Place of publication

Geelong, Vic.

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End date






Publication classification

E Conference publication; E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2015, AAEE


A Oo, A Patil, T Hilditch, S Chandrasekaran

Title of proceedings

AAEE 2015 : Blended design and project based learning. Proceedings of the 26th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference

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