Dravid, R. (2009) Context-based teaching - a key to graduate employability for computer network courses. Poster presented to: Transitions: Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Northampton, 13 May 2009.
Employability is a term that has received considerable attention recently and is strongly aligned with 'good learning' that encompasses an understanding of discipline, technical and professional skills, efficacy beliefs and metacognitive fluency. Problem-based learning has gained wider acceptance in providing a rich learning environment that has potential to offer opportunities for students to develop desirable employability characteristics. Due to its vocational and problem-oriented nature, computer networking lends itself easily to problem-based learning. This research concerns developing a teaching strategy, curricular design and an instructional practice for computer networks courses. It focuses on using problem-based learning as a key pedagogical method for teaching computer networking modules within the context of undergraduate degree program in Computing. The problems are used as a 'context' to understand, apply and actively rehearse wide ranging employability skills in a supervised context, allowing for additional feedback and skills development. Problems used are both simulated case studies and those drawn from real-life network problems to build understanding from bounded simple networked problems to solving complex and abstract business (enterprise) network issues. This paper provides an evaluation on whether problem-based learning is superior to traditional teaching methods in developing essential employability skills, partly measured by student attainment, motivation and reflection and practicality of its implementation as a classroom routine