An Integrated Multidisciplinary Inquiry-based Applied Learning During Covid-19
posterposted on 25.03.2022, 08:58 authored by Weidong LinWeidong Lin, Malcolm Yoke Hean LowMalcolm Yoke Hean Low
This study describes an Integrated Multidisciplinary Inquiry-based Applied Learning approach during Covid-19 for undergraduate engineering education. Anchored with an applied research project, faculty has exposure to seeking practical applications of new concepts and technologies by working together with an industry partner. More importantly, it also benefits students by addressing industry-related real-world problems. During the two years period of the applied research project, twelve related student projects were defined following activities associated with the applied research project, and twenty-four students were trained with related projects during the Covid-19. We are sharing the applied learning pedagogy we adopted in facilitating the students learning. Though sounds like project-based learning, which is closely associated with inquiry-based learning, we used an integrated multidisciplinary inquiry-based applied learning approach. Inquiry-based Learning (IBL) facilitates students' active learning through a self-directed, question-driven learning opportunity to explore a subject and carry out investigations to acquire knowledge about the domain under study (Justice et al. 2009). IBL as a learning theory is rooted in constructivism, which states that humans construct their own knowledge and skills from their personal experiences, rather than being delivered by the lecturers (Friesen and Scott, 2013). However, IBL is not simply leaving students alone to do their work. Some professors used the format of project-based studies to withdraw and reduce their teaching load (Guido, 2017). For a successful IBL, students cannot be left on their own, rather active support and regular feedback are required from professors. In addition, students need a clear process structure that they can use to orient themselves, and professors are always there as a facilitator and guider. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the applied research project, students from various programmes are pulled to work together. With the students' team mixed with different backgrounds, the effectiveness of the applied learning is dramatically improved. From the case we are presenting, it can be observed that it is very productive for faculty to define and supervise students' projects, due to the context of the applied learning is highly relevant to problem statements demanded from the industry. Faculty and students are therefore strongly motivated to work on these practical industry problems. In addition, during the Covid-19 circuit-breaker or high tightening period, students were not able to physically visit the company to collect data. To help students to understand the industrial problem and processes without being able to visit the company, 3D simulation models were developed and used to illustrate and explain the industrial processes and problems. The 3D simulation models can be accessed through a web server and connected to the company's database and real-time sensors. Through the 3D simulation model, students can understand well the details of the production processes, and have access to the data for analysis and problem-solving (de Jong, 2006). The simulation model not only helps students acquire industry knowledge but also enables them to analyze the current systems and experiment with new Industry 4.0 technologies for process improvements in terms of efficiency, throughput, and cost reduction (Zarte and Agnes, 2017). The integrated Multidisciplinary Inquiry-based Applied Learning model nurtures synergy among engineering education activities such as applied learning and applied research which can share a common Industry 4.0 vision. Meanwhile, industry partners can benefit from receiving state-of-the-art concepts and knowledge of Industry 4.0. The case study presented in this study shows that multifaceted results can be obtained from applying this model.