The main objective of the Engineering Education unit is to develop an understanding of the factors inhibiting chemical engineering students from mastering the basic material of the discipline and acquiring the fundamental skills needed for success in their studies. A subsidiary objective is to develop and evaluate appropriate learning environments in the light of these factors.
The research falls clearly within the action research paradigm, in which projects arise from direct concerns and attempts to improve educational practice, and research and development go hand in hand.
This research centres around the objectives of the Caltex Education Development Programme, which are to:
- Improve the quality of student intake
- Enhance student retention by integration into university life
- Encourage self-sufficiency
- Improve the methods of teaching
- Develop the curriculum
- Conduct educational research
Current projects fall under the themes of student understanding of fundamental concepts, student metacognitive development in relation to the learning context in second year, and factors affecting student success in chemical engineering.
Collaborative links exist with researchers at the University of the Western Cape, and we are developing links with Chalmers University and the University of Uppsala in Sweden. Both Professor Fraser and Dr Case were involved in the formation of CREE (Engineering Education) at UCT, which aims to promote research in this field, and to develop networks between researchers.