Enhancing project-based learning through student and industry engagement in a video-augmented 3-D virtual trade fair

Mark Lee, Sasha Nikolic, Peter J. Vial, Christian H. Ritz, Wanqing Li, Tom Goldfinch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Project-based learning is a widely used pedagogical strategy in engineering education shown to be effective in fostering problem-solving, design, and teamwork skills. There are distinct benefits to be gained from giving students autonomy in determining the nature and scope of the projects they wish to undertake, but a lack of expert guidance and of a clear direction at the outset can result in confusion, frustration, and unfulfilled goals. Moreover, engineering schools face the imperative of providing students with opportunities to engage with industry during their courses, which can be difficult to accomplish due to logistical and time constraints. This article reports on a case study in which undergraduate students of electrical, computer, mechatronics, and telecommunications engineering interacted with representatives from industry to obtain feedback at the inception phase of their design projects. Students pitched their ideas to the industry guests at a virtual "trade fair" held within a hybrid video conferencing and 3-D virtual world environment, in preparation for the assessable pitches they had to deliver on-campus to a faculty audience. Survey and assessment results attest to the participants' satisfaction, as well as to the effectiveness of the approach in improving student self-efficacy and performance. The article concludes with recommendations for engineering educators looking to implement similar initiatives and a brief outline of the authors' plans for the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-298
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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