Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Design and analysis of questionnaires for survey skills in chemical engineering

Susana Lucas, Mónica Coca Sanz, Gerardo González Benito, Angel Cartón López, Maite García Cubero

Resum


The new reorganization of university education has involved relevant changes in teaching and learning methodologies in order to help students to learn more effectively and to develop important skills and competences demanded by the professional world. In this sense the new configuration of the degree in Chemical Engineering required the identification of the main general and transferable skills, the implementation of the new teaching and learning strategies necessary to achieve them and, in addition, an evaluation procedure for determining the importance and the degree of development of a student´s skills and competences.

In this exercise, two obligatory chemical reactor engineering subjects of the still in effect Chemical Engineering degree were chosen as examples of competence-based learning disciplines. For each one, a significant group of transferable and specific skills were selected to be developed. The identification and selection of skills was made according to the recommendations of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE) together with the established requirements in the ministerial order for the new Chemical Engineering Degree (Ministerial order CIN/351/2009). In order to check the effectiveness of teaching strategies in helping students to acquire these abilities, specific questionnaires were designed. These tests allowed for the utility of the competences in question to be evaluated in terms of the students´ professional work as future chemical engineering graduates and also facilitated the perception of skill development acquired through the methodology implemented in these subjects.

The results of the skill evaluation questionnaires revealed the importance that both university collectives (students and professors) give to the development of transferable skills. These skills included the ability to communicate effectively (including in English), to work in multidisciplinary teams and learn on one’s own accord, and to be aware of the need for life-long learning. Furthermore, students and teachers agreed that there is a direct correlation between the higher development of specific skills and the chemical engineering learning outcomes. In this sense, an important effort should be devoted to the development of a students´ transferable skills by way of modifying the current teaching-learning system (partial substitution of lectures with tutorials and seminars, strategies based on problem-solving, projects and case studies (individual or student team-work), use of internet and electronic tools, etc.).

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