Engineering lecturers often find fault with students’ basic engineering skills yet are concerned about providing courses that appeal to ‘generation Z’. In this study we asked students of civil engineering at the University of Plymouth, via group interviews, to identify matches and mismatches between the teaching on the course and their learning preferences, in order to determine whether the teaching approaches are suited to the current generation. Complete openness of access to all course material was identified as being at the core of their learning preferences. This includes course material and lecture content, accessed from the VLE as needed, and video capture. But students were clear that they enjoyed engaging in class activities, and identified working with examples in class, especially real-world examples, as a favoured method of learning. In effect, the students are seeking for their lecturers to control the class experience, but not to control, or to limit in any way, access to the content of the course. Most students had appreciation of the importance of basic engineering skills like sketching and hand calculations, but this came from industrial experience and not necessarily from their natural preferences or from course content.

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Excellence in Engineering Education for the 21st century: the role of engineering education research

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School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics