June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.9.1 - 14.9.12
A Collaborative Curriculum Development to Improve Chinese Student Learning Outcomes
This paper presents an initiative of an engineering curriculum enhancement and an example of collaborative junior student’s project development, based on the enhanced curriculum. The main goal of this research is to integrate the best practices from the American engineering education programs into existing engineering curriculum, and to study the effectiveness of the enhancement, made up of a number of new focus areas in critical thinking and practical problem solving.
The research is carried out to study the feasibility and effectiveness of newly designed project collaborations between an American professor and a Chinese student, involved in a junior project. American professor helps to integrate successful American engineering education experiences into Chinese undergraduate engineering curriculum, and guides Chinese students in the project development to enforce the new enhancements in the student’s project.
This study executes a comprehensive test plan in a junior software development project, to research the feasibility of the curriculum enhancement. Also, it measures the effectiveness of student learning in the areas of critical thinking and practical problem solving. Modifications of teaching methods are made as the project progresses. At the end of the project student learning performance is evaluated, using various methods, such as observation, interview, survey and report. The survey results are processed with the help of statistical methods and software. Calculated results are analyzed to measure effectiveness of curriculum enhancements, to assist Chinese engineering students in learning, in the areas of critical thinking and practical problem solving. Then, the results are utilized to create new guidelines for future curriculum improvement. Some drawbacks are also discovered while doing survey analysis, and future improvement plan is recommended.
A recent Alumni survey discovers that the majority of Chinese engineering students spent most of their time working on technically challenging projects in their undergraduate study. However, most of alumni complained that their undergraduate study, particularly their junior and senior projects, did not benefit their professional work significantly. Although most of the junior/senior college projects were considered as technically advanced, knowledge and experience gained from them had not met their needs in the areas of critical thinking and problem solving, which were required in their professional work. Other interesting findings, based on the results of evaluation and assessment in a number of surveys on existing engineering curriculum, are summarized below:
1. 80 percent of surveyors stated that their projects were difficult and challenging to a junior or a senior student.
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