Research-Based Learning Applied in First Semester Courses of Engineering Programs (preliminary study)

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C. J. Diliegros-Godines, Adriana Erika Martínez-Canton, Victoria Ubici


The development of research abilities is a necessary competency for students of Engineering and Science. Regardless of the engineering field of interest, the development of global competencies influences their professional performance. In the present work, we describe the impact, from the students' perception, of the early approach in research activities that involves critical thinking, innovation, problem-solving, self-direction, leading, and written communication abilities. To introduce the students to Research-Based Learning (RBL), we asked them to develop a solution to a problem presented in a first-semester science class in a university focused on developing technical and transversal competencies. This work proposes a teaching methodology based on RBL, which includes the appropriate use of search tools, data analysis, and writing skills, taking advantage of the institution's resources. Simultaneously, we looked for an effective research methodology to build a solid theoretical framework relevant to their experimental results. Moreover, we aimed to link the theoretical course contents to the student's engineering field through RBL activities. The sample under study had 98 students taking an experimental physics and statistical analysis course; 49 in an experimental group (class) were guided using RBL, and the other students were in the control group. The evaluation of the learning outcomes was carried out comparing the pre-and-post surveys, using a 5-point Likert scale (ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree). The statistical analysis of the experimental guided group results showed an increase in critical thinking, innovation, problem-solving, and self-direction compared to the control group students. However, the leadership competency did not show any improvement in both groups. We concluded that implementing the RBL methodology for students in the early stages of engineering education promoted and reinforced the development of technical and transversal competencies

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