A model for Curricular Rrevision the Case of Engineering, Provost Michael Harris, Kettering University, Rroxanne Cullen
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A model for Curricular Rrevision the Case of Engineering, Provost Michael Harris, Kettering University, Rroxanne Cullen

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A model for Curricular Revision the Case of Engineering, Provost Michael Harris, Kettering University, Roxanne Cullen

A model for Curricular Revision the Case of Engineering, Provost Michael Harris, Kettering University, Roxanne Cullen

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    A model for Curricular Rrevision the Case of Engineering, Provost Michael Harris, Kettering University, Rroxanne Cullen A model for Curricular Rrevision the Case of Engineering, Provost Michael Harris, Kettering University, Rroxanne Cullen Document Transcript

    • Innov High Educ DOI 10.1007/s10755-008-9090-z A Model for Curricular Revision: The Case of Engineering Michael Harris & Roxanne Cullen # Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008 Abstract The ability to teach one’s self is a critical skill for workers in the 21st century because of the rapidity of change and innovation. To educate students to meet this challenge, we need to re-envision curriculum with the goal of producing graduates who have the ability to complete the transition from novice to expert after graduation and continue to deepen their expertise throughout their careers. Using engineering education as a model of current efforts in curricular revision, we present a method for curricular review based on learning types in order to design an undergraduate experience that is transformative and congruent with a learner-centered approach. Key words learner-centered . curriculum . learning types . engineering education Curriculum Reform: The Case of Engineering Education The recently released report by the Millenium Project of the University of Michigan, Engineering for a Changing World: A Roadmap to the Future of Engineering Practice, Research, and Education by James J. Duderstadt (2007) offers a thought provoking and comprehensive analysis of the perceived critical state of engineering education in the U.S. As Michael Harris received his Ph.D. in Public Policy from Indiana University, his Master’s degree from Tel-Aviv University, and his undergraduate degree in economics and business administration from Ben-llan University. He is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education Institute for Educational Management (IEM) and Management Development Program (MDP). Dr. Harris serves as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Kettering University. Roxanne Cullen holds a Ph.D. in English from Bowling Green State University with a specialization in Composition Theory and Rhetoric. She is currently Professor of English at Ferris State University, where she has also held various administrative posts. M. Harris (*) Kettering University, 1700 West University Ave., Flint, MI 48504, USA e-mail: MHarris@kettering.edu R. Cullen Department of English, Ferris State University, Prakken 120, Big Rapids, MI 49307, USA e-mail: cullenr@ferris.edu
    • Innov High Educ the title suggests, the report offers a guide for engineering education, calling for a broadened undergraduate experience and suggesting that the current undergraduate engineering curriculum be replaced with a liberal arts undergraduate education followed by a practicebased graduate experience as is consistent with other professional degrees like medicine or law. Ideally, the model of a broader, liberal arts undergraduate experience is workable; and this proposal is founded on significant research and understanding of the multiple and competing forces impacting education reform. However, the solution presupposes that the current state of liberal arts education has progressed in a manner that engineering education has not. There is ample evidence in the numerous and intense calls for institutional accountability, or to use Duderstadt’s phrase “ a cacophony of reports and a chorus of concerns” (p. 10), that the liberal arts curriculum is equally obsolete and that we need to reevaluate the epistemology and methodology of undergraduate education. Reforming the undergraduate engineering curriculum with the current liberal arts curriculum would be substituting one old model with another. To meet the changing world of the 21st century, we need a new paradigm to underpin the undergraduate experience as a whole, a paradigm centered on learning. Much progress has already been made in shifting classroom practices to be consistent with this new paradigm. The American Psychological Association’s fourteen principles pertaining to learners and the learning process, which underpin much of learner-centered pedagogy, are now “widely shared and implicitly recognized in many excellent programs found in today's schools” (Learner-Centered Work Group of the American Psychological Association's Board of Education Affairs 2007). However, pedagogy alone will not suffice in assuring a complete institutional shift toward learner-centeredness. All processes within the institution need to be examined and reconsidered under the lens of the new paradigm. (Harris and Cullen 2008a). Using engineering education as an example, in this article we offer a new approach to curriculum revision that is consistent with the learner-centered paradigm. Consensus on Outcomes There is already general agreement on what skills and abilities 21st century graduates need, regardless of discipline. The Board of Directors of The Association of American Colleges and Universities (2004) identified five key educational outcomes which should serve as the foundation of a quality education. Those outcomes are 1) strong analytical, communication, quantitative and information skills; 2) deep understanding of and hands-on experience with the inquiry practices of disciplines that explore the natural, social, and cultural realms; 3) intercultural knowledge and collaborative problem-solving skills; 4) a proactive sense of responsibility for individual, civic, and social choices; and 5) habits of mind that foster integrative thinking and the ability to transfer skills and knowledge from one setting to another. (pp. 5–6). Likewise, in writing for the National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise, an initiative sponsored by the AAC&U, Crutcher et al. (2007) identified analogous aims and outcomes for all students, regardless of discipline, outcomes necessary for survival in a 21st century workforce. Business and industry concur. Regarding engineering graduates specifically, Spinks et al. (2006) called for graduates to have a sound knowledge of the engineering fundamentals within their discipline and social and interpersonal skill sets including communication, team-working, and business skills. (p.3). Vest (2007), President Emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, called for engineering graduates to “write and communicate well, think about ethics and social responsibility, conceive and operate systems of great
    • Innov High Educ complexity within a framework of sustainable development and be prepared to live and work as global citizens.”(p.1). Achieving Outcomes Many of the outcomes identified both by educators and business and industry are skills traditionally associated with the liberal arts curriculum. However, the report by the National Leadership Council (Crutcher et al. 2007) emphasized that these aims and outcomes should not reside solely within a general education curriculum; they must be embedded in all fields of study whether the field is part of the traditional arts and sciences disciplines or not. In regard to liberal arts education, the report states that, “ it is time to challenge the idea— tacitly but solidly established in American education—that simply taking a prescribed number of courses in liberal arts and science fields is sufficient“ (p.33). Flynn (2006) made this point even more directly: What we currently call the core curriculum (or distribution requirements) also needs transformation. This prescribed set of required courses from an array of departments, assembled in the hope that a well rounded general education will miraculously occur from what is basically a cafeteria menu, is without design or merit. (p. 8) This statement strikes at the heart of the change that must take place in the undergraduate experience. Adding more courses, transferring more information, will not transform students. In order to prepare graduates for the demands of the new workplace, we cannot simply add requirements; instead we must carefully construct an undergraduate experience that is transformative. Duderstadt and others have acknowledged the need to reduce the size of the existing engineering curriculum in order to enhance skill development in communication, teamwork, analytical capacity, entrepreneurship, global awareness, and experiential learning. However, creating room for a menu of courses from liberal arts disciplines will not assure the intended outcome. While we are closer to reaching consensus on what the new graduate must know in order to succeed in the changing world and the 21st century workforce, we have yet to agree on how those outcomes are best achieved. Our current model of undergraduate education is based on an epistemology, methodology, and instructional paradigm focused on the transference of information and assimilation of knowledge. As technology transformation has accelerated and problems have become more complex, we have responded by adding courses that attempt to accelerate information transfer. Covering more or different content is not the answer. Bransford et al. (2000) noted that too often current curricula focus on memory rather than learning, leaving students with ’limited opportunities to understand or make sense of topics“ (p. 8). Tagg (2003) referred to this as educational atomism. In the “educational atomism” of the Instruction Paradigm, the parts of the teaching and learning process are seen as discrete entities. The parts exist prior to and independent of any whole; the whole is no more than the sum of the parts, or even less. The college interacts with students only in discrete, isolated environments, cut off from one another because the parts—the classes—are prior to the whole. A “college education” is the sum of the student's experience of a series of discrete, largely unrelated, threecredit classes. (p.110) We must resist the temptation to believe that information in and of itself is valuable and instead build a curriculum focused on the art and science of learning, on the transformation
    • Innov High Educ of students as learners as called for by Barr and Tagg (1995), who introduced the concept of a learner-centered paradigm. Accreditation and Curriculum Reform The Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has taken significant steps in addressing this need for change by changing accreditation criteria so as to put more focus on student learning outcomes. The new standards, known as EC2000, ask programs to set clear educational objectives, to collaborate with industry, and to conduct outcomes assessment and feed data from these assessments back into the program for continuous improvement. The conceptual framework underpinning these requirements posited that program change, including curriculum and instruction and instructional methods, would impact student experiences in and out of the classroom. The new criteria were piloted in 1996 and 1997, and new standards became mandatory in 2001 with major emphasis on Criterion 3 a–k. Criteria 3 a–k require students to demonstrate the following: a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics science, and engineering An ability to design and conduct experiments as well as to analyze and interpret data An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility An ability to communicate effectively The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context i. A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning j. A knowledge of contemporary issues k. An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice (Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology 2007, p. 18) ABET anticipated that this shift in accreditation criteria would drive curricular reform, and research has indicated that incremental change has indeed taken place. At the request of ABET, The Center for the Study of Higher Education at Penn State undertook the task to answer this question. Are engineers who graduated from programs since implementation of the EC2000 standards better prepared for careers in engineering than their counterparts? Lattua et al. (2006) reported on the three year evaluation in the report entitled Engineering Change: A Study of the Impact of EC2000. The report provided promising data on the effect accrediting criteria has had on curriculum change. Of particular interest was the fact that faculty members have tried to embed some of the subject areas traditionally conceived of as liberal arts territory; however, they did so with little or no reported decrease in other areas of study. So while faculty members and program chairpersons agreed that engineering program curricula had changed considerably following implementation of the EC2000 criteria, the curricula nonetheless remained entrenched in the traditional paradigm by focusing on adding content rather than embedding skills and redesigning courses and programs. Few programs witnessed any reduction in the traditional emphases, yet program chairpersons and faculty members reported an increased emphasis on nearly all of the professional skills and knowledge sets associated with EC2000 Criterion 3.a–k.
    • Innov High Educ Curriculum Reform in the Context of the New Paradigm While incremental change has taken place as a result of the ABET efforts, more needs to be done. Barr (1998) wrote, “Without a vision and design for the whole of the system, incremental changes do not add up to anything significant” (p. 23). We must transform the undergraduate curriculum to create an educational experience that focuses on the students’ purposeful attention to the process of learning, a curriculum that is intentional with the aim of transforming students from novices toward expert status in a given field. It is through this process that students will learn how they learn and acquire the self monitoring skills that allow experts to teach themselves. We recognize, of course, that the undergraduate curriculum cannot in 4 to 6 years develop graduates who have achieved expert status. Research indicates a minimum of 10 years to achieve expert status in any discipline (Feltovich et al. 2006). The goal, rather, is to develop habits of mind and intentional learning strategies and skills that will foster continued growth toward achieving expert status after graduation and continued life-long learning. The ability to teach one’s self is critical in the 21st century workforce because of the rapidity of change and innovation. Many fields now find that they cannot accelerate the transfer of information to students fast enough to keep up with the rate of change in the knowledge of the discipline. Gover and Huray (2007) estimated, for example, that by the time engineering graduates walk across the stage with their diplomas, nearly half of the knowledge of their discipline is obsolete. When the focus is on knowledge rather than on learning, obsolescence is inevitable. To create this transformative curriculum, reformers must examine the core of what is needed within a discipline and eliminate some existing elements in order to focus more directly and deeply on those transformative events that facilitate self-regulated learning strategies exhibited by experts. The goal is to produce graduates who have the ability to complete the transition from novice to expert after graduation and continue to deepen their expertise throughout their careers. Graduates with these skills are more likely to be able to keep pace with the rapidly changing work environment. A considerable body of literature exists on expertise and how the transformation from novice to expert is achieved. When we say an expert knows something “inside and out”, it is not necessarily just a figure of speech. Experts solve problems at a faster rate than novices because they are able to rely on underlying concepts and to recognize patterns that are not yet easily accessed by the novice (Bransford et al. 2000); and they understand concepts in holistic ways, from various perspectives, or “inside and out.” Experts do not get distracted by the details. Clark (2003) wrote that experts can execute skills with greater ease, for tasks that have been repeated over and over become so automatic that they are essentially hardwired and thus bypass the working memory. However, time and practice alone, which can facilitate automacity of skill, is not enough to create expertise. Most important, experts also have more accurate self monitoring skills or metacognitive facility in terms of their ability to detect errors and the status of their own comprehension. In other words, they recognize what they do not know. Bransford et al. (2000) discussed this factor in relation to psychological research on metacognition. Flavel (1979) defined metacognition as individuals’ knowledge of their own knowledge as well as their abilities to predict their performances on tasks in order to monitor their current levels of mastery and understanding. Experts know how to practice or test themselves in order to continue learning. Metacognitive ability allows them to test their understanding of partial solutions in order to prevent errors and other impediments toward reaching a goal. (Feltovich et al. 2006).
    • Innov High Educ Psychological studies of expertise (DeGroot 1965, Duncker 1945, Glaser 1976, Meehl 1954, Newall and Simon 1972, Reitman 1965) have shown that experts certainly know more than others and they know in a different way. Feltovich et al. (2006) noted that, “expertise is appropriately viewed not as a simple matter of fact or skill acquisition but rather as a complex construct of adaptations of mind and body which include substantial self monitoring” (p.57), Further, the complex developmental process involving extensive experience through which an individual becomes an expert cannot be easily replicated; or, as Feltovich et al. (2006) pointed out, “expertise is a long-term developmental process, resulting from rich instrumental experiences in the world and extensive practice. These cannot simply be handed to someone” (p. 57). However, research by Kruger and Dunning (1999) indicated that metacognitive strategies are “explicitly learnable” (Feltovich et al. (2006) p. 57). Problem-based learning, for example, is a direct outgrowth of early research in the differences between novices and experts (Barrows et al. 1978, Barrows and Tamblyn 1980, Elstein et al. 1978) and has become a standard practice in medical education as well as in other fields (Feltovich et al. 2006). Research on self-regulated learners (Graham and Harris 1989, Weinstein and Mayer 1986), those individuals who display intrinsic motivation to learn as well as exhibit the self regulatory habits of experts, has indicated that these strategies can be fostered in those who are not self-regulating learners. Zimmerman (1990) claimed that “our understanding of the interdependence of these processes [metacognitive, motivational, behavioral] has now reached a point where systematic efforts can be launched to teach self-regulation to students who approach learning passively” (p. 14). A curriculum that facilitates the transformation from novice toward expert is one that achieves a balance between assimilation of new knowledge and practical application focused on deepening that knowledge through metacognitive ability. Such a curriculum is one that is deep rather than broad, and it should promote deep learning. The concept of deep learning is derived from the work of Marton and Saljo (1976), which called for learners to integrate new information into existing knowledge, leading them to adopt new perspectives and understanding (Ramsden 2003, Tagg 2003). Deep learning requires an investment on the part of the learner who employs a synthesis of learning strategies including discussion with peers, reflective writing, practical application, and reading in order to process fully the information and knowledge with the added benefit of retaining and transferring information at higher rates (Biggs, 1987, 2003, Entwistle 1981, Entwistle and Ramsden 1983, Prosser and Millar 1989, Ramsden 2003, Tagg 2003). Tagg (2003) articulated this phenomenon as follows: “Deep learning is learning that takes root in our apparatus of understanding, in the embedded meanings that define us and that we use to define the world” (p. 70). Active learning strategies that require sense making, selfassessment, and reflection are key to fostering this ability (Bransford et al. (2000) p. 12). Biggs (1987) and Ramsden (2003) noted that, while some learners may gravitate toward a deep approach to learning, the conditions for learning established by the instructor can affect the learner’s ability to adopt these strategies. Feltovich, Prietula, and Ericsson’s research has led them to conclude that our current educational paradigm is insufficient. It is not reasonable to teach students knowledge and rules about a domain and then expect them to be able to convert this material into effective professional skills. . . . Schools need to help students acquire the skills and mechanisms for basic mastery of the domain and then allow them to gradually take over control of their professional skills by designing deliberate practice and activities that produce continued improvement. (p. 61)
    • Innov High Educ In other words, as educators, we can create conditions for learning that facilitate deep learning, thus creating a transformative experience for students. These conditions include the physical spaces for teaching as well as co-curricular activities, professional development of faculty and staff, and a host of other factors which influence the learning environment as a whole (Harris and Cullen 2008b). In this article, we focus exclusively on curriculum revision recognizing that the effect of curriculum design must be conducted in concert with the development of teaching strategies and learning opportunities within that curricular framework. Curriculum Review Work in curriculum theory has provided a variety of perspectives on curriculum review. The work of Eisner and Vallance (1974), Giroux et al. (1981), Miller (1983), Miller and Seller (1990) offers a range of perspectives on curriculum. Of these, Miller and Seller (1990) devised a scheme that integrated concepts of multiple types of learning and provides the theoretical underpinning for the model of curriculum reform we present. If we are to make a comprehensive shift toward learner-centeredness, then our focus on learners must extend beyond classroom pedagogy. We must examine the framework of our curricula under the lens of learner-centeredness, aligning our curriculum design with pedagogical practices that respond to learners’ varying needs. Different kinds of learning are necessary within any curriculum in order to accommodate individual learners and achieve a multiplicity of desired learning outcomes. Miller and Seller (1990) identified three types of learning according to the role of the learner. First is transmissive learning which is also sometimes called assimilative. Transmissive learning assumes knowledge is content, a commodity possessed by individuals, controlled by educators, and transferrable to students through demonstration, telling, and modeling. Freire (1971/2003) described this as a banking model of learning whereby teachers deposited knowledge into students like depositing money into a bank account. Transmissive learning is the most common mode of learning in the traditional paradigm, one in which students receive information that they add to their existing knowledge. In this model the primary relationship is instructor to student. The second category of learning is transactional which assumes knowledge is constructed by learners through the process of learning. Transactional learning is characterized by experiential activities, student-to-student learning through collaborative acts of discovery, active learning, and team-based projects. Knowledge is not owned by the instructor. Rather the role of the educator is to facilitate learning and to create environments which stimulate learners’ interests, recognizing that learning is social while at the same time individual. The third category is transformative whereby the learner must reassess new knowledge in relation to existing knowledge and reflect upon the underlying assumptions and biases that are the foundation of that existing knowledge. Mezirow (1990) characterized transformative learning as learning through self-reflection, self-awareness, and selflearning. A course that fosters transformative learning employs specific strategies. The first is what Mezirow referred to as an activating event which can involve either the presentation of a disorienting dilemma or conflicting evidence for the student to resolve, some exercise or problem which challenges the students’ habitual way of knowing or understanding. This event is followed by the student critically examining the underlying assumptions underpinning that habitual understanding. Critical discourse and reflection are
    • Innov High Educ part of this examination and are followed by an opportunity to explore or test out new conceptions. Curriculum examination as directed by ABET, for example, is typical of scientific curricula rooted in the traditional instructional paradigm. The focus of such a review of curriculum is on areas of content knowledge arranged sequentially. The ABET table for examination of curriculum (Table I) illustrates this concept. In this model, each course is identified according to the type of knowledge (basic math and science, engineering, design, or general education) to be disseminated. It is also tied closely to credit hours and sequencing of courses. While it is outcomes based, it assumes a transmissive approach to curriculum with a focus on knowledge rather than on learning. We propose a model of curriculum revision based on learning rather than on knowledge with the goal of integrating the three types of learning opportunities. The three types cannot, however, be fully integrated as they arise from opposing philosophies of learning; but building a curriculum that progressively shifts from transmissive learning to transactive and transformational learning is consistent with the shift that Knowles (1984) identified between pedagogy and androgogy. Knowles defined pedagogy as the art and science of teaching and andragogy as the art and science of helping others learn. The concept of andragogy is based on the assumption that adults are self-directed learners and that their experiences affect their learning both in terms of preconceptions and resources for future learning. Furthermore, adults have a strong sense of immediacy and relevance regarding learning which makes their motivation for learning more internal. Critical reflection is key, therefore, to the transformative learning that develops autonomous thinking because critical reflection requires adult learners to consider how knowledge fits into their preconceived ideas, previous knowledge, and experience. Traditional-aged college students are in a transitional phase between pedagogy and androgogy. While in many respects they can be considered adult learners, there is also a considerable amount of knowledge that is new to them and for which they do not have a substantial network of previous knowledge from which to draw. In other words, there is still a need for some transmissive learning opportunities. Therefore, our proposed model attempts to accommodate the three learning types, progressively reducing the opportunities for transmissive learning in favor of transactive and transformational experiences. Both transactional and transformational perspectives are constructivist in nature making them congruent with the learner-centered paradigm. These Table I ABET Curriculum Review Table Year; Semester or Quarter Course (Department, Number, Title) Totals-abet Basic-Level Requirements Overall Total for Degree Percent of Total Totals Must Minimum Semester Credit Satisfy One Set Hours Minimum Percentage Category (Credit Hours) Math & Basic Engineering Topics General Other Sciences Check if Contains Education Significant Design (✓) 32 hrs 25% 48 hrs 37.5%
    • Innov High Educ approaches view learners as individuals in control of their own learning and view learning as a holistic process, promoting the social function of learning. In this more holistic approach, curricula are organized according to broad concepts and types of learning opportunities as opposed to a sequence of units of knowledge. To illustrate we begin with a consideration of the ABET learning outcomes as they relate to the three types of learning. We recognize, of course, that courses can be taught from a variety of pedagogical standpoints and that, in the end, the type of learning that takes place in the course has everything to do with the strategies employed by the teacher. However, the individual outcomes do lend themselves to specific types of learning, though obviously these types of learning are not exclusive to the outcomes or vice versa. (See Table II.) For example, outcome b, “An ability to design and conduct experiments as well as to analyze and interpret data naturally” lends itself to transactive learning since the outcome involves experiential learning; and in most curricula conducting experiments is traditionally laboratory based and collaborative. The same is true for outcome c, “An ability to design a system, component or process to meet desired needs”. Outcome d, “An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams” is transactional by definition. On the other hand, outcome f, “An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility” lends itself to transformative learning. While a transmissive-based course on professional ethics is not unheard of, the consideration of professional ethics lends itself to opportunities for reflection and encourages learners to fit professional ethical concerns within their individual existing framework or understanding of the profession and their own ethics. The same is true for the consideration of global and societal contexts (outcome h), contemporary and ethical issues (outcome j), all of which are tied to life-long learning (outcome i) and are logical issues to use for the examination of one’s underlying assumptions. The role of communication (outcome g) in self-reflection and critical discourse appears obvious, but also demands emphasis. Much of the empirical research on learning that has supported the constructivist philosophy has supported the role that language formation Table II ABET Criteria and Learning Types ABET Criterion Learning Types a- An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics science, and engineering b- An ability to design and conduct experiments as well as to analyze and interpret data c- An ability to design a system, component or process to meet desired needs d- An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams e- An ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems f- And understanding of professional and ethical responsibility g- An ability to communicate effectively h- The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context i- A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning j- A knowledge of contemporary issues k- An ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice Transmissive /Transactional / Transformative Transactional/Transformative Transactional/Transformative Transactional Transactional Transformative Transactional /Transformative Transformative Transactional /Transformative Transformative Transmissive /Transactional / Transformative
    • Innov High Educ plays in learning of all kinds. Of particular interest was a study (Howe et al. 1990) of the effectiveness of group discussion on learning. The finding was that students improved their individual understanding of concepts through discussion whether or not the transcripts of the discussion showed that the group appeared to make any progress in solving the problem being discussed. In other words, the act of using language, speaking or writing, increased comprehension. This supports the write-to-learn philosophy, which is predicated upon the belief that the act of language formation is key to learning and comprehension or, as expressed in the often quoted statement attributed to E.M. Forster, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”. A clear proof that comprehension has been achieved is when the individual can articulate concepts in language, written or oral. Therefore, a curriculum that emphasizes learning is both writing- and speaking-intensive. Much of this reform is dependent upon emerging research by engineering educators who have already made significant strides in recognizing the need to redesign curriculum rather than simply add to the current model. In a special report, The Research Agenda for the New Discipline of Engineering (National Engineering Education Research Colloquies 2006) the steering committee made the following statement: Will the U.S. have engineers prepared to collaborate and lead in a rapidly changing world? The answer to that question, in part, relies on our ability to transform how we educate our future engineers. Our premise is that we need fundamental knowledge of how engineers learn to under-gird these transformational decisions. (p.257) In this report a national research framework was presented, outlining five areas of needed research to “ensure a coherent, rigorous and innovative foundation for systemic and sustained transformation of our engineering education system” (p.257). The five areas are engineering epistemologies, engineering learning mechanisms, engineering learning systems, engineering diversity and inclusiveness, and engineering assessment. The goal is to encourage research that will inform how content should be taught and how learning environments should be designed. With this knowledge the fundamentals of engineering knowledge can be identified in order to build a curriculum that facilitates the growth of students from novice to expert with an emphasis on deep learning as opposed to added content. Mapping a new curriculum in this model will involve the identification of broad concepts and themes and the design of learning experiences to facilitate their acquisition. As reformers chart out the typical student path through the curriculum, they will need to include more transmissive experiences early in the curriculum as students build a knowledge base. These transmissive learning opportunities should be accompanied by transactional opportunities, thus allowing the learners to gain control over their learning. Transformative experiences need to be carefully incorporated at critical junctions throughout the curriculum. For example, if the program has a first-semester course that functions as an introduction to the discipline, this course could be designed as a transformative experience involving considerable self-analysis as well as diagnostic inquiry regarding learners’ current knowledge, preconceptions, and expectations of the discipline. The same would be true of any capstone or culminating experience. The more expert the learners become as they progress through the curriculum, the more they advance transformatively. The implication is that the more novice the learners, the more they will benefit from influx of knowledge (transmissive) and transactional experiences. For that reason the inclusion of experiential work in conjunction with transmissive learning is recommended as in the cooperative learning model used in some engineering schools. Cooperative learning opportunities provide students with experiences that increasingly acclimate and socialize them to the corporate environment as they increase their
    • Innov High Educ knowledge-base and theoretical understanding of their discipline. As learners advance toward expertise, gaining practice employing self-regulated learning and metacognitive strategies, the more those transmissive and transactional experiences will become transformative for them. Conclusion Engineering educators and researchers are heeding the call to reinvent engineering education; and they are approaching the task with the rigor and creative design facility that one would expect of professional engineers in part, no doubt, because of the growing concern over the perceived gap between math, science, and engineering education in the U.S and abroad. One of today’s significant challenges is the growing unease that the U.S. is losing its competitiveness in science and engineering as articulated by the National Academies’ (2005) report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. In this report, the National Academies of Science spoke of the need to develop engineers and scientists who have the capacity to work across boundaries, to function globally, and to be innovative. They called not for more graduates but for better graduates in these disciplines. We believe that revising current curricula with a focus on types of learning is one means of achieving this goal. As we noted earlier, the ability to teach one’s self is critical in the 21st century workforce because of the rapidity of change and innovation; and for that reason the educational experience we design for tomorrow’s graduates needs to be one that fosters independent, self-motivated, and self-regulated learning, a curriculum centered on the acquisition of learning strategies as well as discipline content. We have used engineering education as an example of the possibility for curriculum reform in higher education, in part because engineering has already made significant strides in addressing the issues at hand. Close attention to discipline, pedagogy, and research on learning is needed in all disciplines in order for us to redesign curricula that are congruent with the shift toward learner-centeredness as well as to produce graduates able to cope with the changing nature of today’s workforce. References Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (2007). Criteria for accrediting programs. Retrieved September 19, 2008 from http://www.ABET.org Association of American Colleges and Universities (2004). Our students’ best work: A framework for accountability worthy of our mission. Washington, DC: American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Barr, R. (1998). Obstacles to implementing the learning paradigm. About Campus, 3(4), 18–25. Barr, R., & Tagg, J. (1995). From teaching to learning: A new paradigm for undergraduate education. Change, 27(6), 13–25. Barrows, H. S., Freightner, J. W., Neufelt, V. R., & Norman, G. R. (1978). Analysis of the clinical methods of medical students and physicians. Final Report, Ontario Department of Health Grants ODH- PR-273 & ODH-DM226. Hamilton, ON, Canada: McMaster University. Barrows, H. S., & Tamblyn, R. M. (1980). Problem-based learning: An approach to medical education. New York, NY: Springer. Biggs, J. B. (1987). Student approaches to learning and studying. Hawthorn, VI, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research. Biggs, J. B. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university. Buckingham, England: Open University. Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind experience and school. Washington, DC: National Academy.
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