The use of small group work to improve problem solving in the study of engineering thermodynamics

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This work has neither underplayed nor exaggerated the importance of learning in groups as a way of accelerating and understanding the study of engineering thermodynamics with particular reference to’ problem solving .The main focus is on the active participation by students in the solving of problems. The research is organised around the premise that the personal qualities of individual students and the techniques they employ in problem solving can be harnessed by the use of small study groups if there is both team commitment and individual commitment within these groups. The action research is conducted by assessing how students obtain solution to engineering problems. This is achieved by interviewing both lecturers and students. This is then followed by the ‘group task’, which consists of giving out assignment to a group of students not more than six in the group and again scheduling tutorials for each of these groups. Group Tasks are assessed by Awarding Group Marks. Previous examination results are then compared with examination results obtained after the group task. At the end of the research, group task is seen to be a method, which can be employed to get students actively involved in problem solving.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Master of Science in Technical Education, 2002