Evaluations of introducing project-based design activities in the first and second years of engineering courses
This paper presents three evaluated case studies of the use of design activities in the early years of undergraduate engineering courses. Analyses of academic performance in these activities and in a separate test of understanding were correlated with student perceptions of the activities and with measures of learning style. General student reaction was favourable but a minority of students expressed a preference for a conventionally taught approach. Their concerns are discussed. The conclusion reached is that design and problem-based approaches can be employed to advantage in early years. Intensive support and guidance are necessary, however, to build students' confidence and to facilitate both subject and process skill learning.