Top 10 Titles for 2017: The Engineering Learning & Teaching Blog

I started the Engineering Learning & Teaching blog in July 2015. My main reason for starting the blog was to provide a platform for people with interests in Engineering Education to engage with each other.

In July 2015, when I started the blog, it achieved a monthly viewership of exactly ten. As of December 2017, the average viewership is now hovering around 500 per month.  In July 2015, six viewers were from the UK, three from the US, and one from Zimbabwe. Since then the global viewership has risen to 93 countries spread out across all the world’s continents, with the notable exception of the Antarctica. This growth is a clear demonstration of the phenomenal interest in issues pertaining to Engineering Education world-wide.

In this post, I reveal the Top 10 posts for the year 2017. This is based on individual article views over the past year.

10: Student Assignments, Missed Deadlines and the Planning Fallacy

The idea for this article came about as a result of a discussion I had with work colleagues. We realised that there was a general tendency for most engineering students to submit their work perilously close to the deadline, and that academic colleagues almost always missed agreed deadlines, and that the engineering profession is littered with countless projects that overran the agreed deadline, and almost always cost way beyond the original budget. So this blog is aimed at all of us.

9: Progression for Teaching Only Academics in Research Intensive Universities: A Personal Perspective

In this blog I look at the emerging teaching-only academic role. Non-existent a few years ago, the teaching-only academic role is now a common feature of most research intensive universities. Examples of such roles include those academics going by the title “teaching fellow”, “university teacher” or “lecturer – education and scholarship”.  The article is of interest to everyone in academia – teaching-only academics, other academics who have to work collaboratively with this new category of academic, heads of departments, and academic developers. It is also of interest to practising professionals who are contemplating going into academia as this is the main role that they are increasingly recruited into should they apply to a research intensive university.

8: Arthur Mutambara: An Image of the 21st Century Engineer?

Very few engineers ever manage to cross the gulf from the study and practice of engineering to social activism and politics. Professor Arthur Mutambara is only one of a few individuals who has managed to do so.  He has been a student activist, a noted academic, a revered business consultant, and in Zimbabwe’s darkest hour in 2008, he rose to become the Deputy Prime Minister in the Government of National Unity that rescued the country from the brink.

In his autobiography, entitled “In Search of the Elusive Zimbabwean Dream”, Arthur raises several points pertinent to the engineering profession: What constitutes education in this century; what are the social and political responsibilities of the educated person; what are the best strategies for harnessing emerging technologies for the betterment of society? This blog is therefore of interest to all of us interested in the role of the engineer in the wider community beyond our narrow engineering practice.

7: The UCL Integrated Engineering Programme: A Very Brief Guide

The Faculty of Engineering Science recently restructured its undergraduate engineering curriculum.  The result is the Integrated Engineering Programme, a design-oriented, interdisciplinary and inclusive curriculum that has been well received by the students and gone on to receiving a CATE Award (Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence) by the Higher Education Academy (HEA).  This blog is of interest to all those interested engineering education, and in higher education curriculum transformation in general.

6: Developing Independent Learners: Not a Task for the Faint-hearted

The majority of students entering university are not used to being independent learners. They expect lecturers to give them all they need to know. Hence, one of the main tasks for lecturers in the first year of engineering is to impart independent learning skills to students. This is not an easy task, and most lecturers are ill-equipped to do so. This article should be of interest to fellow colleagues involved in first year engineering education, as well as their students.

5: Excelling in Engineering School: Collaborate – Being smart is not enough

By nature, students entering engineering school are ultra-competitive. In contrast, success in engineering practice depends to a great deal on collaboration with other engineers and with non-engineering colleagues. This blog is of interest to students wishing to master collaborative, team-working skills, and it is also a useful guide for engineering academics and engineering mentors and instructors in industry.

4: Engineering Education: Potential Journals in Which to Publish

Engineering education research is a relatively young field of research, to the extent that it is often difficult for aspiring individuals to identify reputable journals in which to publish. In this article I present a shortlist of seven engineering education journals that the aspiring engineering education researcher can publish in. I arrive at this list using the following standard journal evaluation criteria: journal impact factor, the SCImago Journal Ranking, h-index and number of indexing databases.

3: When the exam results come out

We increasingly expect engineering students to take charge of their own learning. This is termed self-directed learning. Broadly, this means that the student takes full control of planning, monitoring and reviewing their own learning and professional development, starting from the first year in university, right up to the day they graduate and leave university. In this article I suggest ways that students can use exam outcomes to direct their own learning.

2: The Piano Method for Studying Mathematics

Mathematics underpins the study of virtually any theoretical studies related to engineering. In general, performance in mathematics often predicts a student’s subsequent performance in engineering studies. In this article, I borrow from the successful learning practices of aspiring musicians to advise students how they can approach the study of mathematics.

1: Excelling in University-level Mathematics, and not Just Surviving

In this article I discuss some of the critical study skills that students of mathematical disciplines such as engineering need to master if they are to succeed in their study programmes. The blog is targeted at students preparing to go into university or any other tertiary institution, as well as those charged with first year undergraduate teaching, or those responsible for mentoring and supporting first year students in mathematical disciplines. High school teachers are also encouraged to peruse the blog piece to enable them to better prepare their charges for life beyond secondary/high school.

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