Integration of project management skills to manage a fourth year research project

08 Sep 2016

Civil engineering students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology generally find the final year research project very daunting. In most cases it is the first time that they are not ?learning? passively by sitting in lectures, receiving notes and worked out examples, memorising the material and then writing an examination to demonstrate their ?competency?. Suddenly learning comes by doing, and they are faced with the challenge of executing a significant research project. For students who do not have good management skills, this becomes a very difficult task. To address this problem, staff have, over the past decade, integrated project management with the research project to the extent that it has now become one subject with two final year credits. This means that students learn how to use project management skills to manage the research project, which runs over one year. Project management skills integrated with a rigid structure, complemented by lecturer support in a web-based e-learning environment, has been developed to assist students in completing the research project. This has proved to be very successful and students have commented that without the newly acquired project management skills, they would not have been able to complete the projects on time. The results indicate that the integration of project management skills can relieve the role reversal entrapment problem. However, interventions to prepare the students more adequately must be considered over the first three years of study. .The paper presents the historical background to the problem, an overview of how the revised methodology is being implemented, and it indicates how e-learning is used to manage the course.