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Learning through doing: A case study of project based learning in ICT at a third level institution in the Middle East

Author Trevor Prendergast, Philippe Pringuet, Raghda Zahran, and Oonagh McGirr
Abstract Bahrain Polytechnic is a new government-funded third level institution that offers a range of four year degree programmes. Problem Based Learning is one of the philosophies espoused by the institute to develop students' employability skills such as independent learning, teamwork, resilience and communication skills. The Bachelor of ICT programme adheres to this philosophy in a number of ways, one of which is through the implementation of a semester long practical project in the second semester of year three. The project ran for the first time from March to June 2012. This paper documents the project, its aims, purpose and outcomes, as implemented and observed. The central aims of the project were to foster and develop technical and project management skills for an ICT project through implementation and participation. It considers the significant risk of dedicating a sizeable portion of timetabled teaching and learning time to project work, and outlines in detail the associated measures which were put in place to ensure monitoring of student progress and to facilitate the move towards self efficacy in the specific skills sets in line with graduate attributes and learning outcomes. We chart also the additional resource implications, mapping on to the institution's mission of creating work ready graduates through experiential learning. The paper further details the type of deliverables required of the students linking in to the additional learning opportunities made available to participants in order to develop the so-called softer skills often cited by employers. This paper looks at the paradigm shift from a traditional didactic learning environment, so prevalent in the region, to the student centered environment, whilst considering the implications of cultural capital, and assesses how students performed in this new locus, and whether or not they developed the transferable skills necessary.
Keywords project based learning, independent learning, employability skills, student centered learning
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2012
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