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Towards better learning by increased student engagement

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 44th SEFI Annual Conference 2016
Subtitle of host publication12th-15th September 2016, Tampere, Finland
EditorsTiina Niemi, Hannu-Matti Järvinen
Place of PublicationTampere
PublisherEuropean Society for Engineering Education SEFI
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-2-87352-014-4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2016
Publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventAnnual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education -
Duration: 1 Jan 1900 → …


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education
Period1/01/00 → …


Three basic courses obligatory in the bachelor studies of civil engineering were redesigned to increase the student engagement and to support the continuous learning through increased interaction and feedback. Two new courses on geotechnical engineering and soil mechanics were created summing up to the same total credits as the three old courses on engineering geology, soil investigations and soil mechanics.

The analysis of the learning outcomes and the core content formed the base of the development work. Good components, such as soil laboratory and field exercises enabling learning by going and giving memorable experiences, as graduated students commented, were retained, but developed further to enable the self-directed group work and flipped learning. The calculation exercise groups in soil mechanics course were cut down into smaller groups to support collateral learning and to dissipate the gap between the teacher and student. Personal design calculation assignments were added with direct feedback. Weekly moodle quizzes were used to motivate the continuous learning and the lecture attendance.

The results after two and three implementations of the new courses were analysed based on the grades, passing percentage and student feedback, comparing the three old courses with the two new courses. Based on the both the grades and the passing percentage the learning results were improved. Especially the number and achieved grades of student passing with the interval exams on soil mechanics course were improved significantly. In the new basic course, where the final exam is no longer compulsory, the result is not as evident, since during the first two implementations the highest grade possible to achieve by assignments was three.

One important achievement was improving the reputation of these courses. Senior students pass on their attitudes to the young, and created prejudices effect on the student’s performance. It takes several years to chance the image. Therefore, it’s important to react to the student feedback and to make the development work and teacher’s interest visible to the students.


  • active learning, learning by doing, engineering education, blended learning, evaluation method

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland