The nature of student learning in engineering

Derek Fordyce

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    6 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper describes a study of the nature of knowledge structures held by six first year undergraduates in a branch of engineering. Their knowledge structures were defined using the construction of concept maps as an exploration mechanism. A third year undergraduate and a member of staff also provided concept maps from which their knowledge structures could be defined. Comparing the outcome from this study with other studies, a further dimension is apparent. The aspect of confidence was identified that relates to the affective domain. Confidence in a knowledge structure is based on a (valid) personal system of models, experiences and datum 'values' which are found in reality. The inclusion of models, experiences and values in a knowledge structure leads to a more comprehensive understanding of how individuals handle problems. The study reported here is deeper than those which have been reported in the referenced literature. In relation to first year undergraduate engineers it appears: experience is limited; no datum values form a part of their knowledge structures as defined; models are at a simple level. Whether this is appropriate for first year undergraduates is not the issue of this paper, but certainly the difference in knowledge structures between teachers and students may give rise to problems as the two are at different levels and have different included elements. © 1992 International Journal of Technology and Design Education.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)22-40
    Number of pages19
    JournalInternational Journal of Technology and Design Education
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1992


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