Teaching Innovation Projects




For engineering educators who employ active learning techniques such as design projects, logbooks are an ideal way to enhance students’ ability to communicate effectively. In industry, students are expected to write effective reports and produce design documentation (Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board, 2008). In order to fully develop these documentation skills, students must have regular practice. Logbooks are an excellent repository for design documentation and encourage regular use. However, merely requiring the use of logbooks without providing regular guidance or training is irrational.

Logbooks are primarily used in the engineering profession as a way to document an individual’s progress with a particular project. Activities such as precursory analysis, initial sketches, task lists, programmatic issues, reflections of past work, meeting agendas and meeting minutes are typical items recorded in a logbook. Logbooks are typically hardback, paper based products that are bound in such a way as to ensure that pages cannot be removed; consequently, logbooks are sometimes used as legal records in professional liability, intellectual property and project scope disputes (McAlpine, Hicks, Huet, & Culley, 2006).

Design projects present an ideal situation to employ logbooks to enhance communication skills (Yang, 2009). Many engineering educators require their students to use logbooks in active learning projects. However, after regular use, a renewed focus on logbooks is often necessary to reconsider what to record as pertinent information and when is an appropriate time to do so. For participants who are currently supervising design activities, a renewed look at logbooks will assist them in asserting the importance of logbook use in design activities. Furthermore, it will also enhance their own communication skills and the skills of the students they supervise.

This workshop is intended for instructors, professors, and graduate students to consider interactive methods to teach proper logbook use. Participants in the workshop will sample an interactive activity that is recommended to teach students the importance of logbooks. Instruction, brainstorming, and discussion will follow. Participants in the workshop will learn the importance of a logbook, define which activities should be recorded in a logbook and state the necessary elements to record in a logbook.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.