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A Comparative Study of Curricular Differences and Their Influence on Students’ Formation as Engineers

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Factors Influencing Curriculum Development: International Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

International

Page Count

14

DOI

10.18260/1-2--33983

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33983

Download Count

130

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Paper Authors

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Ashish Agrawal University of Cape Town

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Ashish Agrawal is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. He received his PhD in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Prior to that, he completed his MS from Virginia Tech and B-Tech from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, both in Electrical Engineering. His research interests include sociology of education, experiences of students and faculty in academic settings, and critical and inclusive pedagogies.

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Johnson Carroll University of Johannesburg Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0679-9832

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Johnson Carroll is an Associate Professor and Engineering Education Specialist in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of Johannesburg. He holds a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering and other degrees in engineering, mathematics, and liberal arts from the University of Texas at Austin. He joined the University of Johannesburg in 2010, where he has served as a senior lecturer, department head, and since 2013 as an engineering education specialist. His research interests include curriculum design and innovative assessment.

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Jennifer M. Case Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Jennifer Case is Head and Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She holds an honorary position at the University of Cape Town. Her research on the student experience of learning, focusing mainly on science and engineering education, has been published across a range of journal articles in higher education and her recent book, Researching student learning in higher education: A social realist approach published in 2013 by Routledge. She holds an academic development post in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCT, and teaches in the undergraduate programme there. She is a coordinating editor for the international journal Higher Education and a co-editor for the Routledge/SRHE series Research into Higher Education.

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Nicole P. Pitterson Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9221-1574

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Nicole is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Prior to joining VT, Dr. Pitterson was a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University. She holds a PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University and other degrees in Manufacturing Engineering from Western Illinois University and a B.Sc. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Technology, Jamaica. Her research interest is eliciting conceptual understanding of AC circuit concepts using active learning strategies.

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Abstract

Engineering curricula, even within the same discipline, can vary widely. International agreements like the Washington Accord and most national accreditation frameworks seek to ensure some equivalency between engineering programs, but there is considerable scope for differences in curriculum structure and content. These differences may have considerable influence on students’ experience through their degrees in terms of study patterns, academic success, transition from high school to the university, and progress through the degree. To understand the influence of curricular arrangements on student experiences, this article seeks to study and compare the undergraduate engineering curricula at four different engineering institutions in two Washington Accord countries – South Africa and the United States. Data were collected from the four participating engineering programs in the form of curricular documents and student interviews. Data were analyzed to understand how the curriculum relates to local and national contexts and responds to the social and economic situations in a country. Additionally, we were interested in exploring how the curricular requirements including contact hours and other course requirements influence students’ formation as engineers. Preliminary findings suggest that there exist differences not only across national boundaries but also institutional lines in the course structures, credit requirements, and contact hours. These differences determine how soon students start forming an affinity to their discipline and how much they can explore other academic and extra-curricular interests. We expect that the findings will highlight the potential impact of different curricular features on the students who experience them, and provide engineering educators and program coordinators with informed choices to design curricula to better address their needs.

Agrawal, A., & Carroll, J., & Case, J. M., & Pitterson, N. P. (2020, June), A Comparative Study of Curricular Differences and Their Influence on Students’ Formation as Engineers Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--33983

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