I will always lend an ear to what students have to say and try to implement feedback in my approach to teaching as well as the textbook I am developing.
Kensleyrao “Kensley” Apajee is a Senior Tutor in the first-year Engineering Drawing (ED) course (MEC1007F/S) in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at UCT. He has been in the role since 2017 and is passionate about working as a teaching assistant. Originally from Mauritius, Kensley is currently completing his MPhil in Engineering Education at UCT and is undertaking development of a “First-Year Mechanical Engineering Drawing” open textbook under the guidance of his supervisor, Dr Bruce Kloot.
In February 2019, Kensley received a grant from the DOT4D project at UCT to support his open textbook development process.
What is the problem he is trying to address using an open textbook?
Mechanical Engineering students at UCT have to take the ED course in their first year. When the students start the ED course, only a small portion of them have been exposed to engineering drawing or engineering graphic design in secondary school. The majority of students are therefore engaging in this kind of technical drawing, which is critical for the development of spatial visualisation skills, for the first time. This gap in student proficiency is compounded by the fact that a number of students at UCT are required to learn this new skill in English, which is not their home language. There is also the fact that, due to the large numbers of students in class, not everyone gets the same attention from teaching staff. Some students have access to private tutoring, but this has implications in terms of additional cost.
Feedback from students indicates that the current prescribed textbook for the first-year ED course, Fundamentals of Graphic Communication, is expensive (it currently costs over R1 000) and that it’s not fully adequate in terms of supporting course content – largely because it is written for the American context. Added to this, Kensley estimates that students only use about 10% of the current textbook content in the course, which is only one semester long. He estimates that in a class of around 200 students, less than a dozen will have the prescribed textbook.
Kensley aims to develop a well-designed resource that is easily and freely accessible to students at UCT, follows South African drawing standards and requirements, and has enough dedicated material to support students’ successful learning while honing spatial visualisation skills. The textbook, which will be freely available online under a Creative Commons licence, will be of use to anyone who wishes to acquire drawing and visualisation skills.
What is his authorship approach?
Kensley’s authorship approach is embedded in the ED course teaching and tutoring framework. He develops chapters to support topics which are being taught at any given time and consults with the course lecturer to ensure that his content is adequate and appropriate to support the knowledge conveyed in class. When he has a draft chapter ready, his MPhil supervisor reviews the content, after which additional tweaks are made and the chapter layout is done. The DOT4D project provides assistance in the form of editorial and production support.
To date, Kensley has been writing his content in MS Word and producing his drawings in MS Paint. He has been doing the chapter layout in Scribus, an open source desktop publishing tool, but the grant received from DOT4D has enabled him to obtain an Adobe InDesign licence so that he is able to make a more professional looking product. An avid artist with an interest in graphic design, Kensley does his own chapter typesetting and works closely with the DOT4D Publishing and Implementation Manager to formalise his publishing processes.