Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Sixth International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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Addressing engineering threshold concepts in an African university of technology
Leanri van Heerden, Nicolaas Luwes

Last modified: 05-05-2020


Learning new skills isn’t only for the benefit of passing the exam but being able to apply those skills in a productive way. One cannot learn before one understands which is why student understanding is a priority for facilitators. This becomes especially important in threshold concepts where a student will be unable to progress to the next stage before the threshold concept is mastered, but facilitators do not focus on pedagogy as they rely on the support of instructional designers. This explorative paper looks at student perceptions of their understanding of the threshold concept in electrical engineering, logic gates, after completing a lesson designed using the proposed ten-step activity plan. The activity plan is derived from the learning theories of Gagne, Biggs, Vygotsky and Gibson. A sample of 18 students completed an online survey that focused on their acquiring of skills relating to logic gates, truth tables and Boolean algebra. Results showed a positive experience with 88.89% of participants indicating that they left the lesson with a good understanding of the threshold concept. This ten-step activity plan can assist to close the gap between instructional designer and facilitator to design threshold concept lessons based on sound learning theory.

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