Open assignments in a first year student project
Many universities offer projects to support students at the beginning of their studies in order to sustainably enhance the students' motivation or facilitate orientation and network building at university. We introduced a new, open project format during winter semester of 2015/16. In this project, freshmen develop products for specified target groups. After establishing a close cooperation with the local association of the blind and visually impaired, a usercentered approach for product development was used for the assignment where students developed a new product to simplify the daily lives of that target group. Students derived a specific technical problem statement and discussed their understanding of the problem as well as their ideas for solving them with the future users. Results of this project were an inclusive version of the popular board game "The Settlers of Catan", a tactile model of local main train station, and on the metalevel clear ideas for integrating this project format in the curriculum. In this paper, we will show how different aspects of this project format can be developed, which special features need consideration when using largely ill-defined assignments, and what kind of support students need to successfully finish the project.
First year orientation