The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

An Evaluation of the Impact of Project-based Learning on Student Engagement in the Six Sigma Green Belt Quality Module at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Aurora Dimache, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (Ireland)

Pauline Logue, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (Ireland)


Good knowledge and professional, practical skills are critical in the engineering domain. At the same time, soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving have become increasingly important at the workplace [1]. Lecturers in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at GMIT spare no efforts to ensure their students are equipped with the right skills, competences and knowledge. Project-based learning (PBL) is a teaching strategy proven to enable students acquire both hard and soft skills  [2]. The PBL approach, moreover, has the potential to increase motivation and interest in learning, which, consequently, lead to increased student engagement, as well as enhanced learning and academic performance [3], [4], [5]. The aim of this research is to evaluate the impact of PBL on student engagement in the Six Sigma Green Belt Quality module at GMIT. The case study methodology and mixed methods for data collection were employed. The findings suggest that PBL has a positive impact on student engagement. It contributes to increased involvement in class activities and engagement in collaboration with peers, it motivates students to learn and it has a positive impact on their learning satisfaction. The analysis revealed further positive impacts of PBL such as enhanced, deep learning and increased knowledge. PBL, moreover, gives students more control over their learning, transforming them in independent learners. The study has limited generalisability due to the small scale of the study and the selection of participants, which was based on convenience and purposive sampling and not a random selection of students. However, it offered the researcher an in-depth understanding of the impact of PBL on student engagement in the engineering module of Six Sigma Green Belt Quality and the way this impact is perceived by the students themselves.

Keywords: project-based learning, student engagement, active learning, education, Six Sigma, case study 

[1] Casner-Lotto, J. and Barrington, L. Are they really ready to work? Employers' perspectives on the basic knowledge and applied skills of new entrants to the 21st century US workforce. Washington : Partnership for 21st century skills, 2006.
[2] Active Teaching and Learning Methodologies: Some Considerations. Konopka, Clóvis Luís, Bohrer Adaime, Martha and Mosele, Pedro Henrique. 2015, Creative Education, Vol. 6, pp. 1536-1545.
[3] School Engagement: Potential of the Concept, State of the Evidence. Fredricks, J., Blumenfeld, P. and Paris, A. 1, 2004, Review of the Educational Research, Vol. 74.
[4] Framing student engagement in higher education. Kahu, E. R. . 5, 2014, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 38, pp. 758–773.
[5] Student engagement research in higher education: questioning an academic orthodoxy. Zepke, N. 6, 2014, Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 19, pp. 697-708.


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