Using an informal competitive practical to stimulate links between the theoretical and practical in fluid mechanics: A case study in non-assessment driven learning approaches

22 Aug 2018

This study outlines a practical intervention in a second-year fluid mechanics course. The practical was designed using the framework of Legitimation Code Theory, with the aim of stimulating active links between the theoretical and practical (in this case pump and piping networks, head loss and application of the energy equation), through a group-based competitive, informal, interactive learning event. The effect on students? perceptions and anxiety were recorded, and it was seen that students? perceptions of workload, anxiety and time pressure decreased. Substantial evidence of cumulative learning was noted, both during the practical session, as well as in student responses. And while the data do not conclusively elucidate the extent and timeframe over which this benefits the students? results, what is clear is that participants both critically engaged and were enriched by the practical. The project lays the foundation for similar theory- and application-linking practicals based on a non-assessment paradigm.