About Tariqul Alam

My name is Tariqul Alam. I am a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech.


Self-authorship is the outcome of education. Learning is viewed as a starfish. People move forward from the center to every possible directions and step back to get a full picture of it. When we need to know about anything, we do research to learn. Learning evolves and it is a life-long process. Learning is a transformation rather than acquiring skill for future life. The transformation occurs from acquiring knowledge from authorities to constructing knowledge. Schools provide space and stimulus to the students for changing their modes of understanding dependent on assumptions to critical, systematic and distinguish thinking that lead to envision new possibilities. In a complex world, students must be purposeful and self-directed with clear goals, understanding, the process, and appropriate actions. Contemporary college learning outcomes should include cognitive maturity, an integrated identity, and mature relationships. Three dimensions of development such as epistemological, intrapersonal, and interpersonal yield self-authorship to support learning outcomes. Epistemological dimension of development deals with using assumptions about nature, limits, and certainty of knowledge to construct new knowledge. Contextual view of knowledge is that knowledge is constructed using relevant evidence in particular context. It requires capacity to participate in constructing, evaluating, interpreting judgments using current evidences and frame of references. Intrapersonal dimension of development deals with inner reflection and constructing self-identities. Integrated identity requires coordinating various characteristics to form a coherent identity. Interpersonal dimension of development includes inner reflection in relation to others and constructing relationship. Mature relationship is the respect for self and others’ identities by productive collaboration to negotiate and integrate multiple perspective and needs.

Self-authorship enables people to construct knowledge rather than receiving from some source of authorities, and defend it with evidences and frame of references as well as respect other people’s views.

Problem based and project based learning (PBL)

The universities need to focus on real-life problems and societal needs. Industries need graduates who are able to work in engineering project in organizations. There is need for engineers to work in collaborative design. Engineering students need to know more about engineering practice and business model to act as reflective practitioners. Some reform universities were founded in 1960s based on three ideas. The ideas were need for new knowledge and skills, to associate outside world, and need for more democracy and student influence. They introduced different types of problem based learning (PBL) and project based learning. The graduates from these universities were proved effective in the job market. The universities received positive responses from the companies about these graduates. Previous engineers were ill prepared for the labor market. Need for new competences is a reason for expanding PBL. There are some differences in problem based learning and project based learning. In problem based learning, problems are ill structured, real-life problems, and open ended. It is a team work to identify learning needs and viable solution. Teachers are the facilitators not the primary source of information. It focuses on problems and process. It requires learning cross disciplines. On the other hand, project based learning is considered an assignment where one or more tasks are required to develop a product, a model, a design or a computer simulation. Written or oral report summarizing procedure presents the outcome. It focuses on product and outcome with problem solving under supervision of the instructor. It requires the knowledge from the lectures of the discipline. There are three basic learning principles such as learning is a constructive and not a receptive process, metacognition affects learning, and social and contextual factors influence learning that reflect cognitive theories are not sufficient to develop PBL curriculum. PBL can be teacher controlled where a teacher knows the problem, methodologies and solution. It can also be innovative and learner centered where a teacher does not know the solution. PBL can be assessed by formative, self, peer, and summative assessment methods. PBL can be successful for greater motivation to learn. However, it can be failure due to demotivation from added stress. PBL in several courses can overload students with more time to study. There is missing alignment between existing curricula and the goal of educating engineers. To become successful, the strategy can be adding new ideas rather than changing the existing system.




Learning by interaction

Communication is a very important skill for a human being. We communicate about our ideas with others in the community to make it a better place. We share our thoughts with mutual respect, exchange information, and build knowledge together. There are three different learning theories available such as behaviorist, cognitive, and situative. According to the situative learning theory, knowledge is distributed among the people. Learning occurs by active participation using tools like books, computer, and internet. Learning is not storing information in our brains. It is what we do with the information and how we interact with the environment. We engaged ourselves in active participation during the learning process. This is why I think blogging is an important tool that engages us in active participation with keeping our identities.