S1-CT3-2 - Contextualization of basic sciences in technological degrees

2. Research-to-Practice Work In Progress
María Teresa López Díaz1 , Marta Peña Carrera1
1 Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

Keywords: Student engagement; Academic performance; STEAM

This Research-to-Practice Work in Progress paper presents a project based on increasing the motivation and performance of undergraduate technology students.

It is well known that in order to achieve greater motivation for technology students, it is advisable to contextualize the sciences (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, ...) through immediate applications to the disciplines of technological degrees (Engineering, Computer Science, Architecture, ...). In other words, so-called student engagement should be promoted, in particular that students feel identified with the profession they have chosen and find that everything they learn is useful for their future career.

The work presented is aimed at improving the teaching of sciences at a polytechnic university, illustrating their teaching through different technological problems.

In the first phase, the project focused on Mathematics. For example, matrix modeling of engineering problems and then applying matrix calculation techniques for study and solving. This requires not only knowledge of the concepts and techniques of Mathematics, but also notions of the various areas of engineering where they are applied.

Firstly, the methodology has consisted of teaching monthly lectures for the teaching staff since the 2017/18 academic year, which illustrate the use of Mathematics in different technological areas. So far there have been a total of 15 conferences. The material originating from this project has been compiled, for introduction and use in the university community. In particular, exercises that are contextualized to the degree where they are taught, motivating for the student, and guides with notions of the different areas of engineering where they are applied, that serve as support for the teaching staff of mathematics.

Secondly, the material derived from these lectures has been adapted to be useful for the students. Thus, starting in the 2019/20 academic year, weekly sessions have been given addressed to undergraduate students on "Applications of Mathematics in Engineering", the first semester focusing on Linear Algebra and the second semester focusing on Multivariable Calculus. These are voluntary sessions, which are counted on ECTS for attendees. These sessions are intended to bring to the classroom the material extracted from the previous sessions for the teaching staff, in order to improve academic performance, reduce drop-out in the early stages of studies, and increase student engagement, motivation and involvement. In each of these sessions, student surveys are conducted to evaluate the degree of achievement of mathematical and technological concepts. With the results obtained it is planned to introduce the most illustrative applications in the core subjects of the different degrees of the university.

Following the successful experience with Mathematics, in the 2019/20 academic year, the experience in Physics has been expanded, starting with sessions aimed at teachers. In the future it is planned to tackle other basic sciences (Chemistry, Statistics, ...).