A "MetroGnome" as a tool for supporting self-directed learning

J. R. Morgan, Euan Lindsay, Kevin Sevilla

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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CONTEXT: Charles Sturt University introduced a new engineering degree in 2016, with a strong focus on self-directed and –motivated learning. The outcomes of the first year of operation show that while some students are able to thrive in such an environment, the majority required significant scaffolding to work effectively in a self-directed environment. A tool was needed to balance the need for supporting students to become self-directed learners, without providing so much support that they become reliant upon the scaffolding and thus do not develop the necessary independent learning skills.
PURPOSE: The investigation was whether the introduction of a “MetroGnome” for the students to benchmark progress against would provide a sufficient balance of scaffolding to develop self-directed learning.
APPROACH: Each week the students are given a progress update for the MetroGnome – a garden gnome who lives in the student learning commons. In this way academics can provide a gamified benchmark for minimum acceptable progress to the students, without having to produce competitive league tables of actual progress amongst the cohort.
RESULTS: The progress of the MetroGnome very clearly emerged as the expected benchmark performance of the cohort, with most students calibrating their efforts to either keep up with or not fall too far behind the performance benchmark. There are issues with the intended perception of minimum performance vs the emergent perception of adequate performance that need to be resolved; however overall progress is much better for the MetroGnome supported cohort than the cohort without out. An unanticipated consequence was the significant ill feeling toward the MetroGnome on the part of the student cohort.
CONCLUSIONS: Making progress benchmarks explicit has served to improve progress through the cohort; however the anthropomorphication of the benchmark into the form of a Garden Gnome has led to some unanticipated side effects that will need to be adapted for in future implementations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 28th annual conference of the Australasian associaon for engineering education
EditorsNazmul Huda, David Inglis, Nicholas Tse, Graham Town
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherAustralasian Association for Engineering Education
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780646980263
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2017
Event28th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference (AAEE2017) - Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 10 Dec 201713 Dec 2017
http://www.aaee.net.au/index.php/aaee-conference/aaee2017 (Conference website)
https://search.informit.com.au/browsePublication;res=IELENG;isbn=9780646980263 (Conference proceedings)


Conference28th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference (AAEE2017)
Abbreviated titleIntegrated Engineering
OtherThe theme of the 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017) was "Integrated Engineering". It refers to the combination of theory and practice that is characteristic of engineering training, and encompasses more than the well-balanced set of technical skills and professional attributes expected in modern engineering graduates. The theme also refers to the need to train engineers who are willing and able to share responsibility for guiding the world in which they live through the major challenges facing society in the 21st century.
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