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Supporting students through the final year engineering project experience to achieve AQF8 outcomes
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Fae MartinFae Martin, Roger HadgraftRoger Hadgraft, A Stojcevski, Justine LawsonJustine Lawson
Backround: The final year engineering project is widely seen as the capstone experience in engineering programs. For four year engineering programs aspiring to AQF8 accreditation, it is essential that the final year projects provide students the opportunity to demonstrate many of the descriptors for Bachelor Honours degrees. However there is wide variation in both the type of project that students undertake and the level and style of support that they receive from their academic supervisors. This paper presents one set of guidelines to emerge from a national project focused on the assessment and supervision of final year projects. The guidelines are focused on best supervision practice. Purpose: This paper provides academic staff good practice guidelines on how to provide appropriate support to students through the final year project experience. Support provided should give the student an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to ‘provide solutions to complex problems with intellectual independence’ and to ‘design and use research in a project’ while maximising the chance of student success. The intention of the guidelines is to enhance academic project advisor capacity to ensure students meet the requirements of AQF8 outcomes. Design/Method: The wider project methodology was largely qualitative, adopting a case study approach. Data was gathered from 16 universities across Australia (from all states and territories) and included university documentation such as subject outlines, rubrics and student guidelines. Additionally, interviews were conducted with 16 coordinators of final year project courses. Within these interviews, participants were asked specifically about supervision practices and challenges. Additional data was gathered from participants during a conference workshop designed to explore understandings of AQF8.The guidelines presented in this paper were developed by analysing these collected data and comparing good practice outcomes with the AQF8 descriptors. Literature regarding the design process, project based-learning facilitation and the systems engineering approach also informed the framework. Results: This paper reports on one outcome from an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) sponsored projecton final year engineering projects. The framework and subsequent guidelines describe the process that the student will navigate and the behaviours that the student and the advisor should exhibit at each stage of the process in order to give the student an optimal chance to successfully complete their project while still demonstrating the level of independence characteristic of the AQF8 graduate. Conclusions: Final year engineering projects are a pivotal part of all engineering degrees. There is wide variation in the types of projects and levels of support that academic advisors provide to students throughout this process. The guidelines presented in this paper will assist academic advisors and final year project coordinators to provide quality support to students to meet AQF8 outcomes.