oa South African Journal of Higher Education - Expanding the semantic range to enable meaningful real-world application in chemical engineering

Volume 33 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Legitimation Code Theory has proven to be useful in analysing the relationship between theory and practice. Semantic gravity can be used to illustrate teaching and learning processes that move between different levels of abstraction and context-dependency. Effective engineering education entails moving both up and down the semantic range in a way that enables students to apply concepts to contextual practices. However, students seldom engage at the strongest level of semantic gravity. This study investigated the contextualisation of theory in a chemical engineering programme through industrial site visits. Final-year chemical engineering students participated in a voluntary field trip to visit industrial sites. Data obtained through written surveys showed that visits allowed participants to develop a better appreciation for the relevance of taught material to industrial applications and to better understand relationships between different modules and problem solving. Site visits were found to be an effective way of expanding the semantic range.

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