Title

Arts element in engineering teaching

Submitter and Co-author information

Xin HuangFollow

Standing

Graduate (Masters)

Type of Proposal

Oral Research Presentation

Challenges Theme

Open Challenge

Faculty

Faculty of Education

Faculty Sponsor

Dr Zuochen Zhang

Abstract/Description of Original Work

In the first few years, I was an instructor of civil engineering courses at a university in Northwest China, my teaching focused on how to deliver the disciplinary-specific content, which could be perceived as a result of disciplinary egocentrism. With my professional development, I realized that in order to motivate my engineering students, focusing on the specific disciplinary content is not adequate, and inspired by the notion of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education, which integrates an “Arts” element into the teaching and learning of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. I started to explore ways to have arts-related items, such as drawings, models, sculptures, pictures, as an integral part of the civil engineering courses.

In my bridge design courses, I started with artistic appreciation of images of selected famous bridges around the world, followed by group discussions on the features of those bridges. In the next step, each group was asked to design their “ideal” bridge, and then use a special software program to analyze the mechanical property of their design, supported by relevant theories. Through this exercise, students learn how to keep a balance between the aesthetic and scientific components of a bridge model. During the practice, I found a significant rising attendance during the courses and with the interviews of some of my voluntary students, the positive feedback has also been reported, particularly in their interest’s improvement. This teaching approach, which creates a “fertile ground”, significantly improved student motivation and their learning achievement.

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Arts element in engineering teaching

In the first few years, I was an instructor of civil engineering courses at a university in Northwest China, my teaching focused on how to deliver the disciplinary-specific content, which could be perceived as a result of disciplinary egocentrism. With my professional development, I realized that in order to motivate my engineering students, focusing on the specific disciplinary content is not adequate, and inspired by the notion of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education, which integrates an “Arts” element into the teaching and learning of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. I started to explore ways to have arts-related items, such as drawings, models, sculptures, pictures, as an integral part of the civil engineering courses.

In my bridge design courses, I started with artistic appreciation of images of selected famous bridges around the world, followed by group discussions on the features of those bridges. In the next step, each group was asked to design their “ideal” bridge, and then use a special software program to analyze the mechanical property of their design, supported by relevant theories. Through this exercise, students learn how to keep a balance between the aesthetic and scientific components of a bridge model. During the practice, I found a significant rising attendance during the courses and with the interviews of some of my voluntary students, the positive feedback has also been reported, particularly in their interest’s improvement. This teaching approach, which creates a “fertile ground”, significantly improved student motivation and their learning achievement.