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Pioneering teaching project measures multidisciplinary mindset in Engineering students

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12 October 2021

A pioneering project that has developed solid measurements of employability skills has been the recipient of a University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering Teaching Excellence award. The project aims to enhance the employability of third-year engineering students by developing participants’ multidisciplinary mindsets and transferable skills. 

Over the course of a semester, students of the Chemicals and Materials Engineering course CHEMMAT 304 collaborated on an Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) team project. Each team worked on an AFV – a toy-sized vehicle powered by a small hydrogen fuel cell. In week one, students were asked to take a psychometric test to measure self-identified confidence in their abilities in a range of skills and attitudes. These included abilities such as idea generation, future focus, execution, optimism, self-confidence and persistence. Once students understood their strengths they were asked to find teammates to collaborate with on the AFV project for the duration of the semester, who had attributes that would complement their own strengths and goals. Throughout the next ten weeks, the assignments included writing a project proposal and a risk assessment, writing their team contracts, giving each other constructive feedback, submitting voicemail messages that updated the instructor on the project status, and reflections on their skill development progress. 

The teaching team consisted of a collaboration between staff from the Faculty of Engineering, Dr Andrea Kolb and Dr Yantao Song, and the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), Programme Manager Judith Marecek. All three became certified in the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile method of facilitation in the lead up to delivering CHEMMAT 304. The psychometric tests used for the project were an Entrepreneurial Mindset Survey (EMS) developed by CIE and the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile (EMP) commercially available through Eckerd College.

Andrea says “In week 12, the teams wrap up their projects by sharing what they have learned with the rest of the class. The focus is on empowerment and independence: what methods worked best for developing a specific transferable skill and the most enjoyable technical challenges. From the beginning, it was made clear to students that this team project has been created to be enjoyable while facilitating the development of multidisciplinary and transferable skills. Technical failure is acceptable but not for lack of trying.”

The innovative teaching and learning methods used during CHEMMAT 304 were well received by participants. The end-of-semester survey showed that 86% of participants were likely to recommend it to a friend, giving the course a rating of at least 7 out of 10.

CIE Programme Manager Judith Marecek says “The way this programme was delivered supported students to plan for the future, generate multiple novel ideas, turn visions into actionable plans and have a generally positive attitude towards challenges. These are skills and attributes highly valued by employers and it is wonderful that these are being developed in a measurable way so that students can understand their value and their own progress in developing potential.”

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

social media

12 October 2021

A pioneering project that has developed solid measurements of employability skills has been the recipient of a University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering Teaching Excellence award. The project aims to enhance the employability of third-year engineering students by developing participants’ multidisciplinary mindsets and transferable skills. 

Over the course of a semester, students of the Chemicals and Materials Engineering course CHEMMAT 304 collaborated on an Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) team project. Each team worked on an AFV – a toy-sized vehicle powered by a small hydrogen fuel cell. In week one, students were asked to take a psychometric test to measure self-identified confidence in their abilities in a range of skills and attitudes. These included abilities such as idea generation, future focus, execution, optimism, self-confidence and persistence. Once students understood their strengths they were asked to find teammates to collaborate with on the AFV project for the duration of the semester, who had attributes that would complement their own strengths and goals. Throughout the next ten weeks, the assignments included writing a project proposal and a risk assessment, writing their team contracts, giving each other constructive feedback, submitting voicemail messages that updated the instructor on the project status, and reflections on their skill development progress. 

The teaching team consisted of a collaboration between staff from the Faculty of Engineering, Dr Andrea Kolb and Dr Yantao Song, and the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), Programme Manager Judith Marecek. All three became certified in the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile method of facilitation in the lead up to delivering CHEMMAT 304. The psychometric tests used for the project were an Entrepreneurial Mindset Survey (EMS) developed by CIE and the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile (EMP) commercially available through Eckerd College.

Andrea says “In week 12, the teams wrap up their projects by sharing what they have learned with the rest of the class. The focus is on empowerment and independence: what methods worked best for developing a specific transferable skill and the most enjoyable technical challenges. From the beginning, it was made clear to students that this team project has been created to be enjoyable while facilitating the development of multidisciplinary and transferable skills. Technical failure is acceptable but not for lack of trying.”

The innovative teaching and learning methods used during CHEMMAT 304 were well received by participants. The end-of-semester survey showed that 86% of participants were likely to recommend it to a friend, giving the course a rating of at least 7 out of 10.

CIE Programme Manager Judith Marecek says “The way this programme was delivered supported students to plan for the future, generate multiple novel ideas, turn visions into actionable plans and have a generally positive attitude towards challenges. These are skills and attributes highly valued by employers and it is wonderful that these are being developed in a measurable way so that students can understand their value and their own progress in developing potential.”


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