A Comparison Of Strategies To Encourage Regular Study And Foster Deep Learning

A Comparison Of Strategies To Encourage Regular Study And Foster Deep Learning

One of the challenges facing engineers is efficiently using a growing number of sophisticated tools and methods. This requires not only procedural knowledge on how to use them, but conditional knowledge, which determines under which conditions a given tool or method should be used (when, by whom, where, etc.) as well as conceptual knowledge which is necessary for efficient learning and use of tools and methods as well as for knowledge transfer. This paper presents a learning activity devised to improve deep learning of conceptual knowledge. It was implemented in a second year undergraduate compulsory course in mechanical engineering using three different strategies. Students were:

1. asked to draw a map of the course material that was to be covered in the coming week;

2. asked to produce an individual map of the material covered the previous week;

3. given the choice between drawing a map, writing a summary or attending a 10 minute quiz given at the beginning of the lecture, all on the material covered the previous week.

The third strategy proved the most effective. To explain this result, it is hypothesized that motivation played an important role. When students have a better sense of control over their learning – for example, by having a choice of learning strategies and selecting the one which corresponds most to their learning style – their motivation increases. Furthermore, sense of competence was increased for the students who handed in maps or summaries by performing well in the quizzes. These conditions foster a deep approach to learning. 

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