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Piloting a new model for Engineering

28 September, 2020

Centre for Learning and Teaching

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An initial brief of designing a modularised course to aid in the consistency of students’ learning experiences and which could run alongside students’ regular lectures in the Engineering degree program, has led to the roll out of a pilot program in the first five weeks of Semester 1, 2020.

ENGN2300 Engineering Design 2: Systems Approaches for Design, convened by Dr Jeremy Smith is one of a new range of courses re-designed by Engineering at ANU. This modular approach provided students with five weeks of knowledge building prior to them undertaking project-based work during the second half of Semester 1. The workshop modules were undertaken alongside the students’ usual lectures, and another module of work learning Computer Aided Design using existing online materials. It was envisaged that the modules could be rolled out across a number of courses within the degree program. 

The Workshop Model 

The model was a three stage process: 

  • Students began with pre-set readings.  
  • Students then undertook a formative Workshop Pre-Quiz to assist them with understanding if they knew sufficient material to participate in the workshop.  
  • Within the workshop students completed further low stakes quizzes: a Workshop Entry Quiz (2% individual grade) and a Workshop Exit Quiz (3% group grade).  

Figure 1: Example of Wattle site of layout for each module

Workshop Pre-Quizzes were designed as formative tasks enabling students to have multiple attempts, in order to increase their understanding and their preparedness for their group workshop activities. The Wattle-based quiz had a range of question types including drag and drop and multiple choice. In the next stage of this course re-design, Pre-Quizzes will be reworked into H5P to provide a more interactive student experience and one which is less relatable to being assessed. 

Figure 2: Example formative quiz question and layout

Workshop Entry Quizzes were a low stakes quiz worth 2% each week, and were undertaken during the first section of the workshop. However, the Workshop Exit Quizzes had a different emphasis. 

Workshop Exit Quizzes 

During the workshop students would complete group tasks to address a question. Their responses were then recorded as an image, video or PDF and uploaded and shared through a Wattle database. Student work was assessed and feedback provided using a simple generic rubric. Once the marking was completed students were able to view the database of contributions across all the groups. 

Figure 3: Screen shot of the Wattle course database where students would upload their Workshop Exit Quiz responses.

For this particular student group, a screenshot of their Excel spreadsheet was submitted. 


Included in each module was a Workshop Quiz Assignment Sheet (indicated by orange arrow in Figure 1) which outlined important information including due dates, when a quiz was to be undertaken (entry or exit), value, format, length of time, estimated workload, learning outcomes, activity description, submission process, marks and feedback, and a rubric.  

The inclusion of the Assignment Sheet was important in helping to build student scaffolding and to reduce repeated questions about the module model, while students were becoming familiar with the process. This was especially important during remote learning when students were less able to ask some of these questions in person. However, providing this information in writing also helps students with learning difficulties, students with English as a second language, or any student with questions at 2am.  

ENGN 2300 was co-designed as an iLEAP project with Dr Scott Rickard, an Education Designer in the Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT), and Dr Jeremy Smith, a Senior Lecturer in the Research School of Electrical, Energy and Materials Engineering, ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science.

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