Teaching communication, interpersonal and decision-making skills in engineering courses supported by technology

Claudio Alvarez*, Miguel Nussbaum, Matias Recabarren, Florencia Gomez, Darinka Radovic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Communication, interpersonal and decision-making skilb are essential for engineering work and should be explicitly incorporated in engineering curricula. We have tested a constructivist, technology-supported collaborative strategy in engineering courses that is aimed at supporting the teaching of regular subject matter as well as fostering the development of students' communication and social skills. In this strategy, students communicate face-to-face through a social network while supporting their work with handhelds interconnected through a wireless network. Information transfers from the social network to the handheld network and vice versa, meaning that collaborators maintain face-to-face interaction at all times while also being able to obtain and retrieve information. To implement this strategy, a technology tool named CollPad was created and applied in two computer science courses. The qualitative results of the experience show that students found the tool effective in creating an environment that promotes communication, interpersonal and decision-making skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-664
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • CSCL
  • Communication skills
  • Constructivist learning
  • Face-to-face computer-supported collaborative learning
  • One-to-one learning
  • Participatory classroom
  • Small group learning
  • Social skills


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