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Project Lead:

Dr Martin Hill (Martin.Hill@mtu.ie)

Project Status

In Progress

Project Lead Home Department:

MTU Cork - Mechanical, Electrical and Process Engineering - Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Alignment to HEA and NFETLHE SATLE 2022-23 Themes

  • Digital Transformation in the Tertiary Sector;

Alignment to MTU Strategy Themes

  • Learner Education & Experience;

Project Description

This project proposes to engage students as curriculum co-creators to re-design the first-year mathematics curriculum for Electrical/Electronic Engineering students at MTU.

Electrical & Electronic Engineering students find the first year Maths curriculum at MTU particularly challenging. The pass rate for Electronic L7 students completing the first semester mathematics module was 45% for the 2021-22 academic year. At 28.2%, the average attrition rate in Semester 1 mathematics for L7 Electrical Engineering students is more than twice that of the Faculty average (13.8%). The overall aim is to improve retention rates in first-year mathematics by making mathematics more relevant, interesting and engaging for students. We envisage that this can be achieved by using digital tools in mathematics to solve authentic engineering problems. In parallel, this re-design will also align engineering mathematics curricula with how engineering maths is used in the real world where computers are used to perform routine calculations.

Partnership is both a process and a product so we anticipate two significant outputs. The product is a re-designed, mathematics curriculum which leverages computers and digital tools to enable students to apply key mathematics principles, concepts and ways of thinking to authentic engineering problems. The second is a process for co-creating engineering curricula which equally values the student and staff voice. In this process we recognise that different partners bring different experiences and skill-sets but together there is the potential to design a really interesting and innovative curriculum.

What is the anticipated impact of this project?

For us, success means piloting a new approach to curriculum design that we can subsequently use to enhance other aspects of the curriculum. Success also means that we enhance student engagement and outcomes associated with the mathematics curriculum.

Hence, the anticipated impacts relate to the ‘product’ and ‘process’ aspects of the curriculum.

Considering curriculum as a process, we anticipate the following outputs…

  • A new (at least for us) approach to curriculum co-design that can subsequently be used to enhance other aspects of our curricula
  • Staff, and particularly students, are likely to develop graduate attributes related to participative skills and democratic abilities as a result of experiencing the curriculum co-creation process.

Considering curriculum as a product, we anticipate the following impacts…

  • Three re-designed computer-based mathematics modules submitted for approval
  • Enhanced interest and engagement when these mathematics modules are implemented in subsequent years. This will be tracked using retention and performance measures. This will be beyond the life-time of this project. While progression is currently below the Faculty norm we anticipate it should exceed the Faculty norm. We will also use focus groups to explore the impact of the redesigned curricula on student engagement.
  • As a result of increased students engagement we anticipate that the teaching experience will also be enhanced.

Those directly impacted by this project are first and second year students completing the programmes BEng in Electrical Engineering, BEng in Electronic Engineering and the BEng in Smart Product Engineering. This amounts to approximately 90 students per annum.

What will the outputs of this project be?

The key outputs anticipated from this project relate to the product and process of curriculum design

  1. The process is to develop and pilot a student partnership approach to curriculum design based on co-creation. This approach could then be used to re-design other stages of the curriculum, address other problems and transfer to other programmes across MTU.
  2. The product aim is to re-imagine and redesign the mathematics curriculum that leverages digital tools to pose, solve and analyse authentic engineering problems. We anticipate that this will enhance student engagement as the mathematics curriculum will become relevant and interesting.

Team Members:

  • Dr. Martin Hill, Dept. of Electrical & Electronic Eng., MTU-Cork
  • Dave Goulding, Head of Department, Dept. of Mathematics
  • Miguel Ruiz Flynn, (student) Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Electronic Engineering, Yr4
  • Piyawat Mingkhwan, (student) Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Electrical Engineering, Yr4
  • Ruair MCClintock, (student) Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering, Yr3
  • Lauren Cahill, (student), Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Electronic Engineering, Yr2
  • Cormac Vaughan, (student), Bachelor of Engineering in Smart Product Engineering, Yr1
  • Caitlin Ni Mhurchu, (student), Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering, Yr1
  • James Carroll (student), Bachelor of Engineering in Electronic Engineering, Yr1
  • Michael Brennan, (staff) Dept of Mathematics
  • Vincent Cregan, (staff) Dept. of Mathematics
  • Donal O Shea, (staff) Dept. of Mathematics
  • Tom O’Mahony, (staff) Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Eng. & Teaching and Learning Unit
  • Liam Moore, (staff) Y1 Coordinator for BEng. (Hons) in Smart Product Engineering, Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Eng.
  • Dave Hamilton, (staff) Y1 Coordinator for BEng. in Electronic Engineering, Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Eng.
  • Mike Murray, (staff) Y1 Coordinator for BEng. in Electrical Engineering, Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Eng.

We propose to structure this activity around a Learning Community based past successes within both the Dept. of Mathematics and the Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Eng. in using Learning Communities to enhance curricula and teaching and learning in general (O’Mahony et al. 2020). In the past, our Departmental Learning Communities have been staff-facing whereas in this project we want to explore how these Learning Communities can evolve to include students as authentic curriculum co-creators. All individuals named in this proposal will work together as curriculum co-creators.

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