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This paper investigates the use of a PBL project in a developing country community setting to assess how effectively this teaching pedagogy can develop graduate attributes in first year students. The project requires engineering students to design sustainable infrastructural projects for developing countries. The basis of this project was to design a pedestrian bridge to span 6m across a river. Nairobi was chosen as the locality for the project and the research and design needed to take cognisance of the local conditions, materials and labour available in that area.
Eighty first year engineering students were given six weeks to research, design, analyse and present a bridge design solution. The winning group built a full scale bridge for testing across a pond on campus. Tutors witnessed a high level of engagement from the students during the project. The fact that their bridge design could be used in a real life project in Africa was an influential factor in their engagement.
Students were asked to indicate their perceived increase in competency of particular skills, as a result of involvement in the project. The findings from the study are presented in a radar diagram which highlights areas where the project was effective. The data and feedback gained from this study will be used to provide a framework for the design of further PBL projects to develop graduate attributes in the first year of study.
Beagon, U. & Niall, D. (2015) Using Problem Based Learning to Develop Graduate Attributes in First Year Engineering Students, 43rd Annual SEFI ConferenceOrléans, France June 29 - July 2.