Preparing engineering graduates for the knowledge economy through blended delivery of mathematics

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 38: Learning for Life and Work in a Complex World

July, 2015, 528 pages
Published by
T. Thomas, E. Levin, P. Dawson, K. Fraser & R. Hadgraft

Contemporary higher education institutions are making significant efforts to develop cohesive, meaningful and effective learning experiences for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curricula to prepare graduates for challenges in the modern knowledge economy, thus enhancing their employability (Carnevale et al, 2011). This can inspire innovative redesign of learning experiences embedded in technology-enhanced educational environments and the development of research-informed, pedagogically reliable strategies fostering interactions between various agents of the learning-teaching process. This paper reports on the results of a project aimed at enhancing students’ learning experiences by redesigning a large, first year mathematics unit for Engineering students at a large metropolitan public university. Within the project, thecurrent study investigates the effectiveness of selected, technology-mediated pedagogical approaches used over three semesters. Grounded in user-centred instructional design, the pedagogical approaches explored the opportunities for learning created by designing an environment containing technological, social and educational affordances. A qualitative analysis of mixed-type questionnaires distributed to students indicated important inter-relations between participants’ frames of references of the learning-teaching process and stressed the importance (and difficulty) of creating appropriate functional context. Conclusions drawn from this study may inform instructional design for blended delivery of STEM-focused programs that endeavor to enhance students’ employability by educating work-ready graduates.

Keywords: Blended learning, instructional design, affordances