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Curriculum Innovation and Renewal Session 3657

By Donald E. Beasley, D. Jack Elzinga and Michael S. Leonard


Engineering as a discipline has been taught for centuries. Over the years, a standard engineering curriculum (with many variations) has evolved. However, engineering curriculum development has not followed a structured approach. While accreditation agencies have provided general guidelines, courses were often created and taught by the instructor most interested in the subject area. The result is often a fragmented curriculum in need of more focus and cohesion. Even so, little regard was given to creating a methodology for engineering curriculum development until after World War II. Since that time, several curriculum design methods have been developed. As yet there is no universal agreement on a methodology for curriculum innovation or renewal, and in fact there is significant variation in opinion as to what constitutes a good curriculum. One reason for this lack of a universal methodology is the large number of constraints involved in developing any particular engineering curriculum (e.g., budget, facilities, identification of employer needs, and available faculty time), and effects of these constraints are almost certain to be different from campus to campus. In this paper, we present a framework for continuous improvement concepts that can be applied to engineering curriculum innovation and renewal. While it is neither possible nor desirable to develop a universal engineering curriculum, a systematic means of assessing and continuously improving an existing curriculum as a whole should be valuable to department chairs and engineering faculty. This methodology has been developed to enhance efforts by a department's faculty, led by its chair, to analyze and understand an existing curriculum, to measure and assess input from a variety of informed sources, and to design an improved curriculum in response to the input received. This method delivers a new curriculum aligned with the strategic directions of the department

Topics: Stage 3-- Identifying Curriculum Renewal Objectives, Performance Measures
Year: 2011
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