A New Introduction to a Master Programme in Materials Science, Turning Student Diversity into an Advantage
Paper in proceedings, 2010
The paper describes how diversity problems were identified and addressed in a Master’s programme in Advanced Engineering Materials, and how organisation of a programme according to CDIO has been found to facilitate the process of organising teaching and learning to take advantage of cultural diversity. By comparing with experiences from literature, we find that our international students need to blend into an already existing group. We aim for them to be met by clear expectations and information, in an atmosphere within which students, no matter of their background, feel they have something significant to contribute. Important is pre-entry information, e.g. on course choice and on subjects and skills covered previously and to introduce our different perceptions of learning. Some international students have deep knowledge in subjects we do not teach; design of a new learning activity aimed for all students to benefit from that knowledge and to train the role of materials specialist. The paper describes in detail how needs were identified by a survey answered by students already participating in the programme (pre-project survey). It also describes a new introduction that has been designed to meet the challenge of diversity. Pre-entry information, a welcome letter, an interactive homepage and activities were designed to allow for multicultural discussions and nurture a feeling of having something significant to contribute. A new experimental learning experience was developed centred on a product and managed by peer learning. Finally the evaluation of the project is described including a survey answered by the students who participated in the introduction (post-project survey).