I learn by actively participating in the learning task. I prefer visual and distinct experiences of facts as postulated by David Kolb (1976) leading to deep in thought observations. Specifically I can be considered as a visually- and tactilely-oriented student based on Dunn and Dunn learning styles (Miller, et al. 2001). When I have learnt anything it means that I have figured out the process of comfortably solving the problems using required skills or knowledge. Studies indicates that tactilely-oriented students learn more easily when information is presented step by step in a cumulative sequential pattern that builds towards a conceptual understanding (Dunn et al. 1990). This describes perfectly my learning preferences for always wanting to first see some examples of the use of new methods, concepts or theories so that I can internalise and then apply in different context. I generally prefer analytical problems then descriptive one which places me in the analytical-Imagery dimension for Riding’s model of cognitive style. Riding and Rayner (1997) define cognitive style as ‘the way the individual person thinks’ and as ‘an individual’s preferred and habitual approach to organising and representing information’.
As a teacher I facilitate the learning of the students by helping them recognize the hidden meaning of concepts and theories. The students’ motivational base, socio-emotional capabilities and skills for self-regulation are fundamentally known factors to influence both how students experience and interpret learning situations and what kinds of learning strategies they adopt (Jarvela & Niemivirta, 1999). Learning was suggested to be a process of integrated interplay between mental integration of the learning content and the incentive area of providing the necessary mental energy for the process (Illeris, K., 2009). My learning facilitation is usually done by engaging the student to construct their knowledge by being an active learner. When students simply absorb and regurgitate information educators often become frustrated (Cotton, 2011). Therefore to encourage students to be ‘open minded, reflective, critical’ and to ‘undertake active learning’, I explore the use of examples that the individual students will be familiar from their prior knowledge so that they can draw out the new concepts I want them to recognise. This approach is adopted to cater for the diversity within the student’s cohort to suit their learning journey. The prime issue when dealing with diversity in education is not about the dispensing of knowledge, but to provide the appropriate settings that allow students to take part, support and comprehend their knowledge gained. Shaw (2005) suggests that diversity is a fundamental concern in teaching and learning. My engagement method is undertaking to the point that the individuals can describe the concept in their own words and is observed to have comprehended the hidden meaning of the concepts by applying it to a different context. I normally apply different mode depending on the observed level of the student’s knowledge. I normally prefer where practicable to engage students individually so that I can be of assistance when they are constructing their knowledge.
Teaching Civil engineering courses in three different countries Nigeria, Botswana and Australia had now exposed me to the two distinct engineering education paradigms currently in operation globally. The traditional engineering education paradigm which focus on content delivery in a face to face lecture, tutorials and practicals mode and the new engineering education paradigm focused on outcome based criteria in a Project Based Learning (PBL) pedagogy. Teaching in the traditional Engineering education mode my emphasis was on the engineering science. Usually my emphasis is on high technical capability mostly requiring from students deterministic solutions of closely defined, idealised technical problems. In accordance to the bloom taxonomy of learning domains this traditional engineering education is claimed to emphasis low orders skills. Engineering graduates from the traditional paradigm are technically sound in information recall, interpreting of facts and its application corresponding to the first three level in Bloom’s Taxonomy however industrial leaders have consistently called for graduates who can work in teams and solve real world problems (Augustine, 1996) by identifying the components of ill-defined professional problems which requires higher order skills to analysis, synthesis and evaluate the different contenting scenarios. In the last decade much discussion on improvements to engineering education, called for more integration of engineering practice (Cussler, 2002) which resulted in curriculum renewal with a shift in paradigm to student centred learning. The industry had generally expressed the view that engineering graduates were well-qualified technically but lacked the “soft” engineering skills (Kelly 2008). The new engineering education paradigm which I now operate in Australia focuses on the learner which is the student. The Australia Engineering education in my opinion is built on a business model where there learner is the customer that requires a services being delivered by the lecturer and the institution the service provider. The quality of services (lectures) offered the customer is continually monitored and improved to enhance that institution remains in business by attracting more customers (students).
In CQUniversity my emphasis is on the art of engineering where the students are expected to demonstrate specific learning outcomes in a flexible delivery mode. I normally encourage the student to acquire reflective practices thereby developing the culture of lifelong learning and such skills as critical thinking, teamwork, communication and leadership. My courses are delivered in such a way to elicit student understand the social, economic and environment consequences of any engineering solution. I encourage students to always look outward for real concerns of communities, environmental issues, economic issues, global issues and local conditions.
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