Towards better learning by increased student engagement

P. H. Kuula, M. M. Leppänen, M. E. Penttilä

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


    Three basic courses obligatory in the bachelor studies of civil engineering were redesigned to increase the student engagement and to support the continuous learning through increased interaction and feedback. Two new courses on geotechnical engineering and soil mechanics were created summing up to the same total credits as the three old courses on engineering geology, soil investigations and soil mechanics.

    The analysis of the learning outcomes and the core content formed the base of the development work. Good components, such as soil laboratory and field exercises enabling learning by going and giving memorable experiences, as graduated students commented, were retained, but developed further to enable the self-directed group work and flipped learning. The calculation exercise groups in soil mechanics course were cut down into smaller groups to support collateral learning and to dissipate the gap between the teacher and student. Personal design calculation assignments were added with direct feedback. Weekly moodle quizzes were used to motivate the continuous learning and the lecture attendance.

    The results after two and three implementations of the new courses were analysed based on the grades, passing percentage and student feedback, comparing the three old courses with the two new courses. Based on the both the grades and the passing percentage the learning results were improved. Especially the number and achieved grades of student passing with the interval exams on soil mechanics course were improved significantly. In the new basic course, where the final exam is no longer compulsory, the result is not as evident, since during the first two implementations the highest grade possible to achieve by assignments was three.

    One important achievement was improving the reputation of these courses. Senior students pass on their attitudes to the young, and created prejudices effect on the student’s performance. It takes several years to chance the image. Therefore, it’s important to react to the student feedback and to make the development work and teacher’s interest visible to the students.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 44th SEFI Annual Conference 2016
    Subtitle of host publication12th-15th September 2016, Tampere, Finland
    EditorsTiina Niemi, Hannu-Matti Järvinen
    Place of PublicationTampere
    PublisherEuropean Society for Engineering Education SEFI
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Print)978-2-87352-014-4
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2016
    Publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
    EventAnnual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education -
    Duration: 1 Jan 1900 → …


    ConferenceAnnual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education
    Period1/01/00 → …


    • active learning, learning by doing, engineering education, blended learning, evaluation method

    Publication forum classification

    • Publication forum level 0


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