Engineering tutorials or problem classes

Start date

April 2022

End date

July 2022


Engineering degrees in the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences often include tutorials or “problem classes” in the teaching strategy. Frequently, these are smaller classes than a lecture and take place in a flat teaching room. The sessions are led by the lecturer and the students are given a selection of calculation problems to work through in advance. During the class the students have an opportunity to discuss the work with the lecturer and other students (and a teaching assistant for large classes), get help on any problems they could not complete and generally progress their learning.

However, tutorials are often poorly attended (less than 50 per cent head count), and the level of discussion is low. This is an opportunity lost for many students, a disappointment for the lecturers and a significant use of teaching time which could be better employed in other ways.

We want to:

  • Establish how tutorial time is used by lecturers
  • Find out main reasons why students do not always attend tutorials
  • Find out which activities are valued by students
  • Discuss best practice and alternative teaching strategies with staff
  • Implement suitable measures to improve tutorial attendance.

Aims and objectives

This project would seek the opinion of lecturers and students to identify examples of good practice and make suggestions to create more productive approach to engineering tutorials.

Project plan

  • Identify tutorials which use this “problem class” strategy
  • Prepare questionnaire and seek ethics approval
  • Questionnaire to module leaders/lecturers to establish their usual approach and engagement numbers
  • Questionnaire to students on those modules to find out why they do or do not attend and what they do if they do attend
  • Focus groups on teaching activities which lecturers and students would prefer and ideas for alternative methods of teaching time
  • Share ideas with the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences staff and other engineering programmes.

Funding amount



Research themes

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