Implementation of Enquiry-Based Activity Modules for Authentic Learning in Engineering


Activity-based Learning
Experiential Learning
Student-Led Maker Space

How to Cite

Blacklock, M., Connor, C., & Penlington, R. (2024). Implementation of Enquiry-Based Activity Modules for Authentic Learning in Engineering. UK and Ireland Engineering Education Research Network Conference Proceedings 2023.


Engineering education in the UK is evolving, moving away from traditional lecture-based teaching towards more engaging and practical methods. The purpose of this is to develop problem-solving and teamworking skills in a practical, authentic environment. Activity-based learning is gaining popularity as a way to better prepare students for real-world challenges. Northumbria University's Mechanical and Automotive Engineering programmes have embraced this approach by introducing dedicated activity-based learning modules in 2021. Activity-based learning emphasises practical skills, integrating labs and hands-on experiences. This bridges the gap between theory and practice, helping students apply their knowledge effectively. It fosters collaboration and teamwork, encouraging students to work together to solve problems and share ideas. The engineering programmes at Northumbria University include two 20-credit activity-based learning modules in foundation year and each of the first and second years of the main programmes. These modules become more complex and interdisciplinary as students’ progress. Assessment methods include technical reports, presentations, posters, and practical demonstrations. Despite its advantages, activity-based learning presents challenges, primarily around resourcing of space, equipment and materials. To overcome this, student interns helped review and develop a student-led maker space, a central hub for practical activities. This approach ensures that activities are engaging, relevant, and academically rigorous while creating a collaborative and creative environment. In summary, activity-based learning is a promising approach to engineering education in the UK. By emphasising practical skills, teamwork, and diverse assessment techniques, it better equips students to address complex issues and drive innovation in the field. This shift in pedagogy prepares students more effectively for the demands of the modern workplace.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2024 Matthew Blacklock, Chris Connor, Roger Penlington


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