Evaluation of a Part-Time Engineering Degree Programme That Aimed to Unify and Diversify
Joint International IGIP-SEFI Annual Conference 2010, 19th - 22nd September 2010, Trnava, Slovakia.
The School of Electrical Engineering within DIT attempted to address the challenge of increasing diversity in Engineering Education by developing a part-time Electrical Services Engineering degree programme that began as a certificate in 2001 and as a degree in 2003. This four year evening programme had a number of innovations:
• Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) • Application of a Student Centred paradigm • Innovative Curriculum Development using Constructivist principles and Project Based Learning (in part)
This paper will be an evaluation of the four year part time degree programme. There are issues deserving investigation with regard to the programme. The research questions for this piece of reserach will be: • What do academic staff and students think about the programme. How successful has it really been in widening diversity, applying a student centred paradigm and how innovative has it really been in practice. What part does Project Based Learning really play and does it all work? • Are opportunities and service to students on the part time programme satisfactory? Is it fair that fees apply to part-time students? Is there easy transfer to wholetime programmes if students wish to accelerate their progress academically? • What happens to graduates of the programme and are there ladders of opportunity for them to higher degrees if they wish to pursue them? Are they well equipped to take on research degrees with what they learn on this programme?
The methodology used to answer these questions will be a combined quantitative and qualitative analysis. Surveys of students will be carried out along with interviews/focus groups of students and staff teaching on the programme. . The degree programme under investigation has attempted to diversify and unify wholetime and part-time students but there have been surprises along the way that are informative for others contemplating such change. There were conflicts and difficulties as mature students from the part-time programme were mixed with traditional students on the whole time programme. This raised challenges for staff and students alike.