HOW A LEGO MINDSTORM ENGINEERING PROJECT RELATED TO EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY THEORIES TO ENGAGE STUDENTS

Chan, C.K.Y. and Colloton, T. (2013) HOW A LEGO MINDSTORM ENGINEERING PROJECT RELATED TO EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY THEORIES TO ENGAGE STUDENTS. [Conference Proceedings]

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Official URL: http://library.iated.org/view/CHAN2013HOW

Abstract

Psychology has existed for a long time in the academic field of engineering education although many teachers are unaware or unfamiliar with the psychological theories and associated terms. Since the dawn of time, psychology has played an important role in the pedagogical world – the development of curriculum, student-teacher affiliation and the process of teaching (and indeed, learning). Great philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle have significantly influenced the early account of education. Although it may be argued that their concepts are more of a philosophical nature, these thinkers are well-known for their contributions to the foundation of educational psychology. Berliner (1993) noted that long before the development of educational psychology theories, these philosophers discussed about topics related to education and psychology, such as the role of the teacher, and the nature of learning and the methods of teaching. According to the early theories of the Socratic Method, the principle of teaching lies in the way of questioning learners to understand what they actually know and do not know (Stonehouse, Allison, & Carr, 2009). Through their application of knowledge and logical reasoning, students can discover new knowledge to solve problems (Paraskevas & Wickens, 2003). A common engineering curriculum involves many pragmatic aspects. After all, what good will it be for an engineer if he or she can only speak of technical concepts and has no actual empirical experiences on the problem in question. The constructivist view of learning (e.g. Bruner, 1986; Dewey, 1977) sees learning as a process of active construction. In the engineering curriculum, hands on projects and practical labs in which learning is combined with concrete activity and pragmatism is in line with Dewey’s Instrumentalism theory which emphasizes on the importance of hands-on experience in students’ construction of new ideas. Practical work in engineering is usually set on a controlled environment at least in their fresh years, and as the level of reasoning and understanding of the learner develops, the level of difficulty increases and a new target within the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978) is set. The zone of proximal development is a component of Vygotsky’s (1978) social constructivist theory, which proposed that learning is a social process, and learning under appropriate guidance and/or through collaboration with others will help learners achieve more than what they can individually. The use of problem-based and project-based teaching strategies in engineering education is aligned with this theory, such that team work and group discussions require interaction with peers. In Purzer’s (2009) study which observed team discussions on how to solve a particular design problem in a first year engineering classroom, it was found that positive team environment is related to higher achievement score. This paper discusses how psychology is related to engineering education in an engineering project using Lego Mindstorm, from the development of the curriculum to the delivery and assessment process and how each student and teacher affiliate with one another. It pays particular attention to the development of an electrical engineering first year degree program in Ireland and presents some humanistic approaches in targeting student motivation.

Item Type: Conference Proceedings
Depositing User: National Forum
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 20:18
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2015 20:18
URI: http://eprints.teachingandlearning.ie/id/eprint/1980

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