The way to conquer the Engineering studies:
There is a huge difference between studying and learning. Engineering studies rely heavily on the art of learning. If one is not mastering the art of learning, it is going to be very difficult for him to pursue Engineering studies. The way engineering is being taught adds the extra difficulty to it. Carl.E.Wieman a Nobel Prize winning Physicist explained in a lecture how universities teach science and why it will not be effective in a lecture. Though invented for a reason Engineering studies, today holds more value than that. It is the only possible way to solve the huge problems that are in front of us.
The Five stage model:
For one to master the Engineering studies, he has to follow a five stage model. This five stages are hierarchical and must be followed in the sequence if one expects to master the Engineering studies. The five stages are (i) Listening (ii) clarifying (iii) discussing (iv) Debating (v) Teaching. When a student goes through these five stages he is sure to master the art of learning. Higher Sciences and Math has to be learnt in this manner as they are concept building subjects.
This skill is most talked off and very little understood in the modern era. Listening involves not only our sense organ EAR but also the cognitive element. The Science tells us whatever we listen only with our sense organs is just stored in short term memory i.e. only for 5 to 9 seconds. So one should deliberately practice the art of listening. Paying attention is not a simple thing and one cannot suddenly decide, from today he/she is going to be attentive in class. Like every other skill this has to be practiced. Secondly, in engineering studies one should not think or get confused if he doesn’t understand certain things initially. This should not stop him from listening. He should continue to listen even though things are vague at that moment. Keep listening.
The second stage is to clarify things which you have listened with a teacher or a mentor or a coach. It is imperative that a student have these personalities in his/her life as he/she enters college. Things which were vague in listening stage can be cleared in this stage. The most important thing is how you approach the mentors and teachers, how they phrase their questions. If one is approaching and asking his teacher, “I didn’t understand this.” Then the reply is most probably negative. Rather he/she should say “I understood till this part as these things have happened, but I am lost after this, can you help me with that?” then there is a high possibility of positive reply. Clarifying the concepts is the second stage, and one should not hesitate to approach his/her teacher, mentor and coach for this purpose.
Engineering studies require some kind of study group. Anything one learns after 19 has to be in the discussion format. That is the most effective way of learning anything. Languages, for instance are only mastered when it is discussed often. There is a remarkable similarity between learning language and science and math. The study group consists of individuals who has listened and clarified come together to discuss, which sparks new understanding and new ideas to the table. This discussion gives leverage to the comprehension of hard concepts.
Engineering studies can be further honed when the study groups take sides and debate about the hard concepts they have now comprehended. Debates are essential to ask the question “Why not this way?” In discussion they would have come to a conclusion about a concept. But debate helps them to challenge their own thinking, own comprehension. This adds depth to their learning.
This process completes when he/she tries to teach the hard concepts to somebody in a very simplified manner. The teaching actually tells how much one has mastered the concepts. This is the assessment one can have of his learning. Simplification of a concept is the ultimate understanding of it. One cannot teach other if he cannot simplify it.
These five stages are essential in the learning process of higher science and math. This form the basics of engineering from which one can then think critically, create something that is useful to the society. It will help us to get more real engineers who can solve the problems that are arising.