Laboratory experience in engineering significantly impacts upon how students view their courses. Whilst there may be nostalgic memories of what this offered the educator on their own route through further education, it is often far from the modern reality: time bound, pre-configured, minimal student agency over input variables, and something of a data grab and dash.
Home Lab Kits (HLK), one of the innovations whose use was accelerated as a COVID-19 mitigation, have provided some long-term improvements in the educational lab experience of undergraduate engineering students in the School Civil, Aerospace, and Mechanical Engineering (CAME) at the University of Bristol. The HLKs provide an experience that allows for: independent play and exploration, development of extracurricular experimentation, and time to problem solve and learn from mistakes. This paper reports on both the educator experience and the student voice for a large common team-taught engineering lab unit delivered to ~550 students.
Students report that they have “used [HLKs] for a number of [their] own projects”, that they are a “great way to get people excited about what we're actually learning about” and “made [them] feel like an engineer”.
Whilst HLKs provide for less prescriptive laboratory classes, they can also lead to students being worried about less structured problem solving. However, combined with well-designed taught elements, they can produce an exciting buzz of real-time investigation and collaboration with students.
Ross, J., Lancastle, S., Selwyn, B., Richards, G., Jones, S., Hardman, D., & Saunders, J. (2023). Reflections On Engineering Home Lab Kit Use In A Post Pandemic Environment. European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI). DOI: 10.21427/HJGV-NR98
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