The application of learning skills in an engineering
The feedback from both current and former students as well as
programme staff is that the module is a success. One observable
trend that has emerged is an improvement in retention of the first
year students. During the 2001/02 academic year, 58 per cent of
first year students were eligible to progress into the second year.
This increased to 61 per cent during the 2003/04 academic year (Costello
2005). At the time of writing, statistics for the 2004/05 academic
year have yet to be published.
Still, as has been pointed out, not all retention issues can be
eliminated, and nor should they be. Instead there should be a monitoring
system to understand the reason(s) for the withdrawal (Moore
2006). This type of monitoring began in the Department of Electrical
Services degree programme three years ago. The one main trend that
has emerged is that the majority of first year students have left
this programme to make a lateral move into an Electrical Apprenticeship
Another positive development that has been observed is how at least
80 per cent of graduates have been successful in locating employment
in the area of Electrical Services Engineering. This has been a
constant since the first set of students completed the programme
in 2001. In addition, many of those students who do not enter the
job market immediately choose to continue their studies within other
DIT engineering programmes or other institutions in Ireland and/or
the UK (Harding 2006).
Finally, the module received special recognition and praise from
the Validation Committee during the most recent validation process
in March 2004.
The implementation of learning skills within the core curriculum
of a third level engineering programme can be of benefit to the
current and future needs of the students – in both the academic
and personal arenas. These learning skills have been integrated
into a first and second year ordinary degree programme in the Department
of Electrical Services Engineering in the DIT. Based on qualitative
data it has been shown that retention rates have improved and that
the programme has assisted students with their transition to third
level education. By providing an environment in which to develop
and learn such skills, the Academic Development and Key Skills module
represents a move towards addressing the holistic needs of the student
population. Future research will be conducted in order to measure
the impact of these enhancements.