Truck Project – Tutorials
Held project tutorials which gave me an opportunity to question the students about their experience of group work, 3D exploration as a learning tool, and their overall project experience so far. A number of interesting patterns are beginning to emerge within this module. I began the tutorial with going back to Week 01 and the conversation started:
Week 01 (GROUP) – Truck Cab Human Factors Analysis – Groups climbed on, interacted, used, tested, measured the truck cab to develop their working knowledge of the overall product. The student response was very positive and all students were excited about the project and enjoyed the first weeks task. Comments included ‘it was good to experience the physical object’, ‘we could test the cab features with different sizes of people’, ‘I have never been in one before but it was critical to experience the object to be confident enough to design one’, ‘its easier to visualise the problems’, ‘I now see the importance of thorough analysis when the opportunity is there’, ‘I should have analysed it more’, ‘we could share opinions and work together’, ‘it was a happy environment and atmosphere’, ‘real research’, ‘good to perform thorough analysis in a limited time’, ‘it forced us to consider human scale which is a fundamental part of the learning outcomes’.
Week 02 (MASS GROUP) – Space-frame build – this activity did not prove as fruitful and some students commented that there was not enough to do. In this activity 2 groups of about 5-6 students formed an action groups to make the frame. This activity took one full day.
Group work is a powerful learning tool, the students have worked in groups for 9 weeks and as a member of staff I thought that it was very risky to continue this way of working without letting them break off into individual working opportunities, I thought that the usual group problems would dominate and begin to make their experience un-enjoyable. It appears that my fear is actual unfounded. The students are appreciating the group work activities and through discussion the students have made the following comments, ‘I am not a group leader but my group colleagues give me confidence with my ideas’, ‘being in a group we could experience the tilt mechanism together, nobody knew anything before but we helped each other to understand’, ‘we help each other with our ideas’, ‘learning together’.
There is though negative comments made about group work as certain individuals have either not taken their responsibilities seriously enough or do not seem to enjoy group working and so it could be said that they are not benefiting from such activities. Comments include, ‘can work in team but would rather be on my own’, ‘easier not to have any challengers’, ‘no group work in design A-level so is new within my design education’, ‘not seen many of my group’.
Working in 3-D both interactive and build. There appears to be something quite powerful happening when students explore and build 3-D situations. They have had very positive experiences so far, ‘I am not very confident with making but working with others is giving me confidence’, ‘3-D investigation enables me to make things work’, ‘I now realise that I can see resolve design issues in 3D much quicker’, ‘It gives me a better understanding’, ‘I can understand detail and mechanisms in depth’. They also appear to be absorbed in 3D activity in a deeper more engaged way.
Coming weeks: Over coming weeks it is the intention to make groups start to work with other groups to enable them to address any problems that will generate as the different parts of the new design come together this should again offer interesting insights into group working. There will also be another intense build session where teams will build the design into the space frame. My thoughts are changing on the power of group work as a learning tool and using 3D problems to engage the learner, 3D problem based learning!
Food for thought:
- Monday AM staff student briefing sessions each week to set weekly individual and group plans.
- Before we attempt to work in groups a session on ‘what it means to work in groups’ should be conducted.
- How can I get working in 2-D to be as engaging as working in 3-D.