What should we teach? Defining your discipline to drive curriculum renewal: an environmental engineering case study

Dowling, D. G. and Hadgraft, R. G. (2012) What should we teach? Defining your discipline to drive curriculum renewal: an environmental engineering case study. In: 40th Annual Conference of European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI 2012): Engineering Education 2020: Meet the Future, 23-26 Sep 2012, Thessaloniki, Greece.

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In Australia, the federal government, employers, and accrediting bodies, such as Engineers Australia, are calling for more clearly defined program outcomes or exit standards for engineering programs. Engineering Schools are therefore under increasing pressure to more clearly define what graduates from four or five year engineering programs should know and be able to do.
This paper describes a simple, but elegant stakeholder process that can be used to define the capabilities of a graduate who could claim in-depth technical competence in their discipline. The Defining Your Discipline (DYD) Process may be used by educational institutions and industry organisations to develop practitioner-authenticated sets of graduate capabilities for their discipline. Environmental engineering was the test case for this new process.
At the heart of the DYD process is the definition of tasks, in this case the tasks which a graduate from a program should be able to do in their first two or three years after graduation. Stakeholders are given a set of large sticky notes on which they are asked to write, on each note, one task that they would expect a recent graduate to be able to perform in their company. For academics, this is an imaginary task, while for industry representatives, who usually have considerable experience in supervising young graduates, it is more authentic as they know the sorts of tasks that a recent graduate should be able to complete. After about 20-30 minutes, most participants come to a stop. They can’t think of any more tasks. Sometimes, it is helpful for them to talk to people around them for more ideas. This might last another 10-15 minutes.
So, within 40-50 minutes participants are ready for the next stage, which is to cluster the tasks into meaningful groups. This takes another 20-30 minutes. There is usually quite a bit of discussion about the names of the clusters, and when negotiating the cluster into which an individual task belongs.
The outcomes for environmental engineering are shown in Figure 1. In this case, the clusters are shown along the right hand side of the cube (investigation, modelling & analysis, integrated design, assessment of impact, environmental planning, audit etc. The other two faces of the cube represent technical domains (water, soils, etc) and generic skills (teamwork, communication, etc). The paper demonstrates an efficient process for determining the graduate outcomes for an engineering degree. The same process is also being tested on non-engineering programs. The process is efficient in terms of stakeholder time, taking about one and a half hours to collect 100-200 tasks to be accomplished by a young graduate, depending on the attendance. The participants categorise these tasks into clusters and these can then be synthesised with the results from other workshops.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: This publication is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for the purposes of study, research, or review, but is subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - No Department (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - No Department (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2013 09:26
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2014 04:06
Uncontrolled Keywords: self-teaching programming curriculum; self-assessment rubrics; problem-solving; early education
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170107 Industrial and Organisational Psychology
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150305 Human Resources Management
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520104 Industrial and organisational psychology (incl. human factors)
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390113 Science, technology and engineering curriculum and pedagogy
35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3505 Human resources and industrial relations > 350503 Human resources management
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939908 Workforce Transition and Employment
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/22746

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