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45​th​ SEFI Conference, 18-21 September 2017, Azores, Portugal

Traditional and Modern Methods of Teaching, their Applicability and Effect on the Curriculum at UCM - Skopje N.Trajkovikj1 (1) E-mail: ​ S. Manev (2) E-mail: ​ K. Ilijovska (3) E-mail: ​ T. Trajkova (4) E-mail: ​ S. Serafimoski (5) E-mail: ​ I. Stojanovska (6) E-mail: ​ T. Kuretoska (7) E-mail: ​ (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7) Board of European Students of Technology - Skopje (BEST Skopje) University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius - Skopje Skopje, Macedonia

ABSTRACT While the traditional methods of teaching have provided many generations of inventors who in turn have made our daily lives better, the need for a change is evident. Because of this, BEST - Skopje organised a local event with a goal in mind to give form to ideas and facts that have been floating around since the internet began changing the way we 1

Corresponding Author N. Trajkovikj

45​th​ SEFI Conference, 18-21 September 2017, Azores, Portugal

learn. Through a well-constructed methodology, a forum discussion was conducted. This provided us with enough insight into the thoughts of relevant parties on the matter, including students, professors and a few company representatives. Conference Key Areas: Curriculum Development, Lifelong Learning, University - Business cooperation Keywords: Teaching Methods, The role of the professor, Engineering Education, Macedonian Universities

INTRODUCTION Prior to the technological widespread that brought about the age of information, throughout the world, a belief was held that, after leaving university, graduates were equipped with enough knowledge to last them a 10-15 year career. Since however, that period has shrunk down to 2-3 years. This analogy represents an indicator that the educational model which is present in the world is struggling to meet the needs of modern society. With that in mind, the question is not “​if” ​technology will transform education as we know it, but rather “​when”​.[1] The Board of European Students of Technology (BEST) perceives students as having a key role in the development of Engineering Education and has been striving to bring the development of European Engineering Education (EEE) closer to students for more than 10 years. Its Educational Involvement Department works to increase the students’ awareness and involvement in EEE. For this purpose, different methods have been established in order to collect input from STEM students regarding relevant and important topics. The students’ input is afterward disseminated among relevant stakeholders through public reports or presentations at international conferences.[2] The subject of investigation of this paper are the differences between modern and traditional methods of teaching and learning, and the way that the acquisition of non-cognitive skills by the students can be a direct result of an innovative approach to education.[3] Presented here are the views of engineering students and professors from the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia (UCM). In the paper a corporate insight is given as well, acquired from company representatives, whose views show the new trend of narrowing the gap that is needed to bridge the knowledge from university and use it effectively in the industry.



A Local Event on Education (LEoE)[2] was organised by the Board of European Students of Technology - Skopje, the local branch of BEST located at UCM. The purpose of this event was to bring together students, professors and business

45​th​ SEFI Conference, 18-21 September 2017, Azores, Portugal

representatives (the three stakeholders of education) from many STEM areas to discuss, gather and distribute knowledge on specific topics concerning engineering education. Forum discussion was chosen as the event’s format and the facilitation was performed by professor Emilija Fidanchevska from the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy at UCM. Initially, a working team was put together within the LBG. The team’s responsibility was the coordination of a one-day event within the framework of the official opening of the local round of European BEST Engineering Competition (EBEC). Several aspects, such as the topic preparation, the event structure and the discussion coordination have been included in the organization of the event. There were three stages concerning the methodology: ● Presentation In the presentation’s content, a large pool of relevant questions about modern and traditional methods was presented. Some of the pros and cons of the teaching methods had been included, as well as the steps that need to be undertaken to improve the learning experience. ● Discussion Next, the prepared questions were used as a guide for the discussion. Between the academics, students and company representatives, the seamless flow of the discussion was attained. ● Questionnaire Lastly, in order to obtain quantitative data for the events’ effectiveness, a questionnaire was handed out to all of the participants at the end of the event. This was used to get a better grasp on the overall effectiveness of the event and see what interest students showed to further participate in initiatives focused on improving education. The opinions had been expressed and the ideas had been exchanged among all of the involved parties. And while many ideas were unanimously accepted by the three stakeholders, the differences in opinions were strikingly large for some of the questions asked on the discussion. The outcomes shared in the part below have been constituted from the report generated from the notes that have been taken from the discussion.



45​th​ SEFI Conference, 18-21 September 2017, Azores, Portugal

The research had lead to a few focus points regarding the influence of technology in Engineering Education. These focus points are: complementary education and teaching methodologies, the acquisition and implementation of practical knowledge, LLL, SDL and flexibility in the curriculum, the role of the professor, internships and career centers, university-business cooperation and the input of the students.


Complementary education and teaching methods

Today’s complementary education is the driving force behind the development of students’ soft skills. Many faculties at UCM try to implement courses on soft skills as part of the curriculum, but to no avail, claim the students present at the LEoE. Complementary education which focuses on acquisition of knowledge and skills through practice, be it case studies, instructional videos and other variants of practical exercises can be found outside of formal educational institutions in organisations, websites, MOOCs (Massive Online Open Course) and other sources. The participants were divided, half said that faculties should not sacrifice technical courses for the less-effective courses on soft-skills and the other part said that the faculties should better prepare the said courses. Both agreed that the soft-skills courses in their current state are non-effective.[2]


Putting knowledge into practice

Laboratory exercises are a great way of putting the knowledge into practice. Students think that apart from removing the abstractness of the theoretical lectures, this is a great way of developing the aforementioned soft skills, as well as getting a sense of team building, given that the exercises are often done in groups. In the present students’ opinion, the faculties should try harder to include activities such as laboratory exercises in the subjects where that is feasible.[2] A case study is a process or record of research in which detailed consideration is given to the development of a particular person, group, or situation over a period of time. In the engineering field, this is usually the impact a certain new technological development or concept can have on the overall conduct of a process associated with that technology. Case studies help with understanding the importance of the field the student is engaged in. The students are able to see the direct applications and the impact it has on everyday lives, however indirect it might seem at first glance.[2]


Lifelong Learning, Self-Directed Learning and flexibility in the curriculum

The first alternative to the lectures that usually comes to mind is searching the web for additional information on the topic and using it to delve deeper into their fields of interest. There are countless websites that offer the option to take free courses, which

45​th​ SEFI Conference, 18-21 September 2017, Azores, Portugal

are usually in the form of MOOCs. The courses themselves vary widely, encompassing almost, if not all of the academic curriculum at least up to complete undergraduate university programmes of study. Such a website that the students mentioned is for example Coursera.[2] It had previously come to the attention of many students present, that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, also has a website that offers free courses through video lectures and other materials. After finishing these, students (or enthusiasts) have the option to write several papers and receive a degree on the subject.[2] This has been and still is a growing concept which might minimise the need for formal education in just a few decades, making it more of a mentor - learner relationship for the future generations.[2,5]


Professor's role and the needed shift towards Guide on the Side

It was pointed out by the students that the teaching methods also depend on the subjects. It was argued that traditional ways of teaching, e.g. writing on the board whilst explaining the material, are inevitable for some fundamental engineering subjects, whereas other subjects require a combination of traditional ​and​ modern methods.[2] As a consequence of the fast development of technology, engineers have to incorporate Lifelong Learning. While companies have the freedom to build their internship trainings according to modern demands, the universities lack this flexibility, as was stated by a company representative. This suggests that the universities should modify the curriculum ​and encourage methods such as ​Self Directed Learning (SDL), consequently satisfying the interests of the job market.[4] SDL is shown to be effective in many studies conducted by academics and students alike.[5] Despite the strict curriculum, it was stated by the present professors that they still have the freedom to choose the methods of transferring their knowledge. Students argue that what is really missing is interaction during lectures, especially in large groups. It was generally agreed upon that the professor should stimulate the students to think and make sure everyone understands, and not just go through the lecture independently. The professor’s role should shift towards intriguing the students, making self-conducted research something that they are eager to do.[1] Such a shift requires a comfortable environment where students can share ideas, give suggestions and ask questions.


Internships and Career Centres

Internships are another form of learning which allow students to face and solve real problems. At the same time, this improves their soft skills and teaches them how to properly function in a work environment. University career centers should be more outreaching and involved in students’ development by providing help with acquiring internships and even job applications, agreed students and professors. Their role can

45​th​ SEFI Conference, 18-21 September 2017, Azores, Portugal

be of vital importance when it comes to students making the right choices for building a successful career.[6]


University - Business Cooperation and students’ input

Another idea that was proposed by the professors, was that feedback on the curriculum should be regularly provided by the students and occasionally by the companies, given that they know what they look for when hiring. This topic corresponds to University-Business cooperation and the from the results a lack of such collaboration between academics and companies can be observed. [2,4]



As pointed out in the discussion outcomes (part 2.4), the traditional methods still make for a good foundation when it comes to certain subjects, but the constant improvement is becoming essential for a successful career, and some of the modern methods find use in this significantly. Moreover, a conclusion was provided (part 2.1) that complementary education is becoming more accessible every day through Self-Directed learning in the form of MOOCs, published research by renowned specialists and other internet sources. ​Case studies, laboratory exercises and internships are some of the effective tools students find helpful to escape the abstractness of the material and put the knowledge into practice, as acknowledged by the discussion outcome (part 2.2). During the discussion, a certain shift was proposed as needed (part 2.3) in the way the professors handle the curriculum and the way they encourage the students to broaden their horizons and engage in research. A problem with incorporating these methods into the curricula, which is finding the adequate ones for the right applications, still remains. We believe however, that with enough will and interest in future initiatives on improving education, these types of problems will be overcome. BEST Skopje would like to thank all the members involved in the organisation of the LEoE as well as all the participants, partners and professors. Furthermore, we would like to thank especially to professor Emilija Fidanchevska from the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy at UCM.


45​th​ SEFI Conference, 18-21 September 2017, Azores, Portugal

[1] KING, A. (Winter, 1993), From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side, ​Taylor & Francis Ltd​, Vol. 41, No. 1, pp. 30-35 [2] BEST Skopje (2017), Traditional versus Modern Teaching Methods - The path to a successful career, Proceedings of the Local Event on Education, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, ​ [3] GARCIA, E. (2014), The Need to Address Noncognitive Skills in the Education Policy Agenda, Economic Policy Institute, ​ [4] Board of European Students of Technology (2016), Be on the right track with SMART learning, Event on Education Gliwice, [5] Michael J. Caravello, Joel R. Jiménez, Lois J. Kahl, Brian Brachio, Ed.D., and Elsa-Sofia Morote, Ed.D. (Fall, 2015), Self-Directed Learning: College Students' Technology Preparedness Change in the Last 10 Years, Journal for Leadership and Instruction, ​ [6] J. Bjelica, M. Duarte, D. Manasova, S. Mihajlov, Y. U. Yildiz (Fall, 2016), Continuing Professional Development and Internships as Influential Factors in Developing Students, 44th SEFI Annual Conference, Tampere, Finland

Traditional and Modern Methods of Teaching, their applicability and Effect on the Curriculum at UCM  
Traditional and Modern Methods of Teaching, their applicability and Effect on the Curriculum at UCM