Educational Software in Engineering Education

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Education, Stockholm University

Abstract: This thesis contributes to the quality of engineering education and the accessibility of education worldwide by promoting computer-enhanced teaching and learning. It uses the epistemology of John Dewey (1859-1952) and the action research methodology first advanced by Kurt Lewin (1890-1947). A mixed methods approach that combines qualitative case studies with quantitative research methods is used.In the first of three case studies engineering students working on their final degree projects participated. To elicit interaction, a learning management system (LMS) was used and the students were strongly encouraged to discuss various aspects of their work.The second case focused on the barriers to a wider utilization of educational software in engineering education. The case is delimited to lecturers at the School of Engineering at the University of Borås. The investigation focuses on the lecturers’ reluctance to use educational technology and the slow uptake of new pedagogical methods in engineering education.The third case study covers three subsets of participants. A course intended to improve lecturers handling skills and motivation to utilize educational software in a pedagogically sound manner was given in Cuba, Guatemala and Peru.The first case demonstrated that computer-enhanced collaborative learning can improve the learning experience and performance of engineering students. The second case showed that LMS tools that facilitate traditional methods are used routinely, whereas lecturers often refrain from using features intended to facilitate collaboration and the creation of communities of learners.The third case study investigated the use of a complete course package, with all course material and software contained on the same USB drive (LiveUSB Mediated Education, LUME). It is asserted that LUME can facilitate constructivist pedagogical methods and help overcome the reluctance of lecturers to utilize educational software in a pedagogical sound way.