June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
19.4.1 - 19.4.9
Bringing in the World: Internationalizing the Curriculum of a First-Year Introduction to Engineering Course at a Large Public American UniversityEngineers must work within multinational and multicultural environments, which requires globalcompetency and ongoing, lifelong learning to better understanding engineering cultures aroundthe world (Ater Kranov et al., 2011; Autor, Levy, & Murnane, 2003). Accreditation bodies anduniversities recognize that the preparation of lifelong globally competent engineers begins duringthe undergraduate degree (National Academy of Engineering, 2005). However, incorporatinginternational experiences into a packed undergraduate curriculum in a meaningful but affordablemanner is difficult for course administrators and instructors, and little is known about theeffectiveness of existing efforts. This paper addresses the need to better understand how courseinstructors can effectively internationalize their learning materials in an engineering classroom.The course used as a qualitative case study in this paper is an Introduction to Engineering courseat a large public university in the United States, which includes 30% international students, andstudents in this first-year course will go into all of the engineering disciplines at the university.This unique course section included assignments contextualized for international clients as wellas interactions directly with international stakeholders via email or Skype.This study fits into the paradigm of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, as it includesjournals and reflections from the instructor and course team as well as information on studentlearning and performance on assignments tailored to international and multinational “clients”. Inaddition, groups’ design reviews were conducted by international collaborators, providingexternal validity checks as to the demonstration of global competence in students’ learning. Weutilize these data within a qualitative case study investigation to better understand the following:(a) what was the nature of the additional changes to the curriculum from the perspective of theinstructor, the instructional team, and the students?, (b) what levels of global competence andperceptions of global engineering were demonstrated in student assignments, and (c) whatchallenges arose in implementation of curricular changes?We find that student engagement with internationally contextualized activities generallyincreases, although students also note significant difficulties with logistics (e.g., coordinatingtheir discussions with international evaluators across time zones) that mirror real-worldmultinational industry practices and complexities. We further find that the instructional team andinstructor do not experience significant increases in their perception of the course load whenactivities are closely aligned with the overall learning outcomes and assessments (Biggs, 1996).International students have different perceptions of the experience from their domestic peers, andthese experiences could be more integrally leveraged into classroom activities and reflections.These findings have implications for course instructors and administrators, as they strive toinclude opportunities to acquire global competence in residential universities. It is challengingfor all engineering undergraduates to access extensive international experiences such asexchange programs, but thoughtful teaching and learning activities could provide internationalinteractions that mirror real-world business activities. These interactions prepare students froman early stage for lifelong engagement with international colleagues.
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