Investigating the Effect of Theoretical and Laboratory Teaching on the Students’ Academic Performance in Mechanical Engineering
In order to improve the students’ learning experience in the Mechanical Engineering (ME) modules, a problem based learning (PBL) approach is used and the learning activities are designed to provide students with an opportunity to learn theory and perform the experiments to develop a better understanding of the subject. The aim of this action research is to investigate the effect of the theoretical and laboratory based instructions in the Engineering Applications module on the students’ academic performance. The sample is composed of 106 students from Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) in Scotland. The data is comprised of the marks obtained by the students in the summative design assessment, based on the theoretical studies and the two online quizzes based on the laboratory experiments. The results show that the module’s instructions are mostly focused on the experimental studies which indicates that the experimental studies are not supporting the theoretical studies. It illustrates that the theoretical studies and the experimental studies indirectly support each other. It also shows that the students are not provided with an adequate opportunities to develop the engineering application skills. This implies a need to constructively align such modules, in order to improve the student’s learning experience. The concept mapping tools can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the teaching practices on the students learning experience. The learning activities design should take into consideration the learning styles of the students to encourage them to actively participate in the PBL environment. In addition, the educational institutions should provide support to the academics to improve their facilitation skills in the PBL environment. A suggestion for further research is made to evaluate the effectiveness of the theoretical and experimental teaching instructions based on the Bloom’s Taxonomy on the students learning experience.
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