International field school for first-year engineering students

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Dick, Brian
Nguyen, Thai Son
Sillem, Mackenzie
Engineering graduates increasingly find that they are part of teams that draw a multi-disciplinary membership across a broad range of cultural, socioeconomic, and linguistic backgrounds. Although engineering students often have the opportunity to participate in international projects (e.g. co-operative education programs, study abroad), formal international field schools are not typical within engineering curricula, particularly at the first- and second-year level. To provide an early introduction to intercultural perspectives, first-year engineering students at Vancouver Island University (VIU) participated in a field school at Tra Vinh University (TVU) in Tra Vinh Province, Vietnam over a period of three weeks. This field school consisted of a number of cultural and engineering activities, and involved pairing of students at both TVU and VIU for the duration of the experience. To measure student response during the field school, participating VIU students completed the on-line Intercultural Effectiveness Scale questionnaire pre- and post-experience. Students at both institutions also completed reflection exercises throughout the three-week period. This feedback suggested each student pairing continuously developed skills necessary to overcome linguistic, cultural, and technical barriers to learning and growing over their time together. Students described an enhanced understanding of self, and an increased likelihood to further participate in intercultural experiences.
Conference Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2020 Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA-ACÉG) Conference
This paper was originally published as: Dick, B., Nguyen, T.S., & Sillem, M. (2020). International field school for first-year engineering students. Proceedings of the Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA-ACÉG) Conference. Canadian Engineering Education Association.
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