“CivE Design Days” is a two-day event where second year civil and geological engineering students worked in groups to propose a solution to a design problem which incorporates concepts from their core academic curriculum.
During the two-day event, students were excused from their regularly scheduled classes and didn’t have any coursework deadlines. Although the proposed solutions were scored and judged as part of the competition, the project carried no weight in the related courses grading schemes. The goal was to create a learning environment where students could have an opportunity to learn through experiential learning, reflective learning and with no risk of failure. This allowed students to completely immerse themselves in the activity with freedom to explore creative ideas without consequence.
Experimentation and hands-on activities involve a more personal level of learning which promotes a unique form of memory retention and deeper learning. The nature of experiential learning is meant to be accompanied by learning through failure. Through the struggle accompanied with failure, students experience important levels of critical thinking and reflection. Reflective learning is a learning technique which is very closely linked to experiential learning and learning from failure. By having two full days to focus and engage in the design material, students will have an ideal opportunity to make connections within their courses, to their life and to experiences. All these different forms of learning enforce a deeper understanding for students and will enhance retention in upper years.