How (well) are we assisting our students in becoming 21st century stem graduates?

Timothy Moroney, Iwona Czaplinski, Pamela Burrage, Qianqian Yang


Contemporary global economies heavily rely on human capability to acquire new knowledge, foster innovation and promote scientific development (Lafond, 2015). This requires acquisition and development of specific skills to allow modern graduates to become agile and effective employees, capable of leading and sustaining progress.
The current research investigated to what extent we are preparing our students to the above-mentioned roles, in the context of a first-year Computational Science unit, by assisting them in becoming discipline experts and expert learners at the same time. More precisely, we formulated the following research questions: to what extent did we assist students in acquiring and developing their 21st Century skills by 1) promoting students’ engagement, and 2) assisting students in becoming expert learners? To answer to these questions, first the crucial, 21st Century skills as defined by industry were identified and mapped against learning outcomes of the unit under investigation. Next, student engagement and the level of their expertise in the learning process were investigated through a unit evaluation survey. Data analysis shed light on factors influencing student engagement within the designed learning environment and the associated development of expert learning skills, while also identifying further research questions to investigate in the future.


21st Century skills; student engagement; lifelong learning; computational science

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