Engineering the future: CDIO as a tool for combating retention difficulties

Robin Clark, Jane Andrews

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


With the demand for engineering graduates at what may be defined as an unprecedented high, many universities find themselves facing significant levels of student attrition-with high "drop-out levels" being a major issue in engineering education. In order to address this, Aston University in the UK has radically changed its undergraduate engineering education curriculum, introducing capstone CDIO (Conceive, Design, Implement, Operate) modules for all first year students studying Mechanical Engineering and Design. The introduction of CDIO is aimed at making project / problem based learning the norm. Utilising this approach, the learning and teaching in engineering purposefully aims to promote innovative thinking, thus equipping students with high-level problem-solving skills in a way that builds on theory whilst enhancing practical competencies and abilities. This chapter provides an overview of an Action Research study undertaken contemporaneously with the development, introduction, and administration of the first two semesters of CDIO. It identifies the challenges and benefits of the approach and concludes by arguing that whilst CDIO is hard work for staff, it can make a real difference to students' learning experiences, thereby positively impacting retention.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopments in Engineering Education Standards: Advanced Curriculum Innovations
Subtitle of host publicationadvanced curriculum innovations
EditorsMohammad Rasul
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4666-0952-5
ISBN (Print)9781466609518
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012

Bibliographical note

Request from author for reuse of IGI materials accepted by IGI Global on 20/01/15


  • CDIO
  • activity based learning
  • student retention


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