Making friends at camp

01 June 2007 | Story by Myolisi Gophe

Buddies: First-year students made new friends at a recent camp of the Department of Chemical Engineering.

In a first for the Department of Chemical Engineering, more than 100 first-year students attended a recent camp to build a spirit of camaraderie in the class.

This comes after a recent study by the Centre of Research in Engineering Education (CREE) found that a sense of alienation in the class limits students' learning experience.

In the study, Dr Jenni Case, a senior lecturer in the department and director of CREE, interviewed third-year students and found that many of them only knew the names of a small group of classmates.

'It is understandably hard for students to develop relationships across boundaries that exist in the class,' said Case.

The 109 students spent a weekend at Oatlands in Simonstown, playing physical and mental games, group presentations and viewing the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

Postgraduate tutors and senior undergraduate mentors led the discussions, and the outcomes far exceeded the expectations of the department.

'The key to the success of the weekend was the most amazing group of leaders who had volunteered their time,' says lecturer Linda Kotta. 'They held the weekend together. Students had to get out of their comfort zone'.

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