Active Learning in Engineering Education

Erasmus+ Capacity Building in Higher Education Project 586297/2017

ALIEN leaflet

Traditional learning methodologies based on passive transmission of information fail to develop a set of competences that students need for their professional life and for being active members of their communities. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are in need of modernizing their pedagogical methodologies, moving into active learning processes whereby students engage in activities that promote higher order learning skills like analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Project and Problem-based learning (PBL) are active and learner-centred methodologies in which students develop their knowledge and competences by following a problem solving process, usually based on real-life situations. The identified benefits for engineering and technology students are considerable improvements in critical, lateral and creative thinking, problem solving strategies, intrinsic motivation, group collaboration, communication skills, entrepreneurship, and integration with society. Supporting active learning through ICT tools (virtual social communities, games and VR/AR simulations) creates Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) where the new technologically-savvy generation of students feels comfortable.

Project ALIEN designs, implements, and validates an active learning methodology based on PBL environments addressing real-life issues related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts. This methodology aims to build among students skills that are in demand by industry and to facilitate their easy transition into the world of work. The ALIEN PBL, active learning intervention follows a holistic implementation that aims to make PBL a key pedagogical approach at participating institutions and beyond. The implementation involves pedagogical design, physical laboratories, a PBL digital learning platform, and instructor training for facilitating smooth deployment. The project is being implemented in a number of European and Asian countries: Greece, Portugal, Estonia, Bulgaria, the UK, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, and Malaysia. The broad implementation ensures that the project integrates input from diverse cultural, educational, and economic environments on how to best apply PBL approaches at HEIs for better preparing students to effectively enter the work force.