This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only
This paper looks at an exploratory case-study undertaken to try and investigate student engagement within a practical wood machining class.
Due to the nature of the course and the cohort of students, the current lecturer pedagogic practice has to be behaviourist, but from this a culture of expectancy has developed among the students. It was felt that something had to be done to revitalise student interest in the work they were doing and also give them the chance to address the perceived shortfall in their learning. There was potential for a lot of failures, but also much worse, there was potential for students to engage in unsafe practices with inevitable accidents occurring.
The current teaching practice was examined and analysed with a view to changing and improving it. Within the limited scope for change it was decided to try a viable alternative method of student engagement, whereby they would encompass their learning in a portfolio. The hope here was that through reflecting on work done and machines used, the learning experience would improve for the students due to the higher order thinking skills necessary to produce the broader and deeper knowledge required for the portfolio. This would then in turn foster a more focused learning environment and help to ensure that the students take greater control and responsibility of their own learning going into the future.
The research has produced encouraging signs and it seems to have had the desired effect of allowing the students to gain a broader knowledge of the subject, to back-up practical classroom experiences and also to allow for a further demonstration of learning and knowledge achieved.
Delaney, N. and Nolan, J. Promoting Student Engagement within a Practical Class through the use of a Learning Portfolio. International Conference on Engaging Pedagogy 2013 (ICEP13) Institute of Technology (IT Sligo), Sligo, Ireland, Dec. 6, 2013.