Conceive-design-implement-operate (cdio) as an effective learning framework for embedding professional skills


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Engineering education requires the development of professional skills alongside technical expertise. Active, project - and problem-based learning have all been shown to be an effective method for learning and teaching and the CDIO (Conceive- Design-Implement-Operate) framework is internationally recognised for this. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of our CDIO approach to undergraduate Mechanical Engineering degree programmes through analysis of student confidence in a variety of professional skills. Two questionnaires were given to students at the start (QNR1 n = 109) and end (QNR2 n = 117) of their final year of study in 2016/17, 2017/18, and 2018/19, including a list of key skills for students to rate their confidence levels. Results showed that students were highly confident in a number of professional skills including "problem solving"(4.20/5), "communication"(4.08/5) and "teamwork"(4.13/5), and that almost 90% of students used the CDIO process during their Final Year Project (FYP). Students recognised the importance of their academic advisors in the development and completion of their FYPs, particularly in areas such as defining the project aims (mean 85% agreement of importance), but also accepted that responsibility was predominantly their own or shared in all areas of the project. Only 5.4% and 11.1% of students thought it was the advisors responsibility alone to "Implement the Project"and "Define the Project Aims"respectively. This is a positive indication that CDIO is an effective methodology for giving students confidence in the professional independent and team working skills required post-University.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1299
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • Active learning
  • CDIO
  • Engineering education
  • Problem-based learning
  • Project-based learning
  • Skills


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