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Publications

Publications by Manuel Torres

2018

Pedagogical and technological replanning: a successful case study on integration and transversal skills for engineering freshmen

Authors
Torres, MF; Sousa, AJ; Torres, RT;

Publication
International Journal of Technology and Design Education

Abstract
Replanning is often used to optimize results of an activity in an ever changing world. To address the challenge of preparing future engineers for success, a special course was created for all engineering freshmen of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, in Portugal. Presented as a case study, this special course underwent a careful replanning as a result of several years of experience in teaching practice alongside with a theoretical deepening in pedagogical and technological issues, under the aegis of the action-research methodology. Within the context of the case study course, the mentioned replanning was also based on a theoretical approach that clearly identifies teaching–learning-assessment methodologies that promote regulation from those that foster emancipation, using a specific instrument: a taxonomy of educational processes. The replanning was designed to globally boost results regarding the educational aims of the course such as furthering freshmen’s integration into work environment and preparing them for success by fostering transversal skills (needed for study and work). Technology is seen as a mean of education enrichment as well as a productivity tool. The introduced innovations include fun-but-educational activities, several types of assessment over time and specific technological tools which were critical for the educational impact/achievement of this course. Success is demonstrated by encouraging feedback from the stakeholders, high students’ classifications and a steady reduction in retention. It is advocated that large portions of the reasoning behind the replanning can be extrapolated to other courses. © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

2018

Welcome to Engineering: Gender Equality in Learning and Integration among First Year Students

Authors
Torres, M; Ferreira, S; Sousa, A; Moreira, L; Torres, R;

Publication
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION

Abstract
The presented research explores four years of newcomer engineering students at FEUP, one of the largest faculties of engineering in Portugal. The students are surveyed in a mandatory course common to all engineering programs at the mentioned faculty, totalling an involvement of about four thousand. This research explores the perceptions of 1198 newcomer students regarding learning and satisfaction, workload, integration into academic work environment and institutional support whilst trying to find gender differences regarding the following variables: engineering program, academic year and change of residence. The questionnaire used in the presented research was validated and its internal consistency was excellent. The findings reveal that students' perceptions on learning and satisfaction as well as on institutional support (two out of four factors) are consistently similar between genders throughout the four years of the study. The differences found between male and female students on integration and workload, however consistent, are small if not marginal. The study is significant because it shows the relevance of the optimization efforts for integration (in the academic work environment) introduced in a mandatory course at the start of engineering degrees in order to bridge the gap between male and female students. This research shows that we are walking towards gender equality in engineering, but we feel that there is still some effort to be done, namely through inspiring scholars to analyse and act upon academic contexts and higher education governance without prejudice and with an open mind: a commitment that is as hard as necessary.

2020

Fostering soft and hard skills for innovation among informatics engineering students

Authors
Torres, M; Flores, N; Torres, R;

Publication
Journal of Innovation Management

Abstract
Informatics engineers are currently in the spotlight of innovation. It is, therefore, relevant to analyse and reflect on how higher education can, and should, prepare future engineers to innovate as expected in this ever-changing world. This paper aims to further research and foster scholarly debate regarding the requirements and implications of teaching innovation. For that purpose, we examine an exploratory case study on interdisciplinary cooperation between two higher education courses, designed to promote students’ active learning of innovation through the progressive development of their soft and hard skills. Both courses engaged in an emancipatory pedagogical approach, mostly grounded in project-based work, active learning, and formative assessment. To obtain feedback on this interdisciplinary cooperation, questionnaires were devised to ascertain the students’ perceptions about this pedagogical approach. Individual responses were collected from both courses and data was analysed through simple statistical procedures. Articulating a priori soft skills development with a posteriori hard skills learning process is perceived by students as beneficial in gradually, yet successfully, understanding the subject of innovation. Also, there were even some external success indicators which showed the recognition of successful innovation skills development in informatics engineering students. Thus, according to students’ perceptions of their experience with an emancipatory pedagogy that connected soft with hard skills development, we conclude that such approach encouraged students to create new knowledge and allowed them to develop the necessary skills to innovate.