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Challenging The Norm In Engineering Education: Understanding Organizational Culture And Curricular Change

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Conference

2004 Annual Conference

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Curricular Change Issues

Page Count

20

Page Numbers

9.298.1 - 9.298.20

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/13435

Download Count

120

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Paper Authors

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Jeff Froyd

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Carolyn Clark

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Prudence Merton

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Jim Richardson

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2630

Challenging the Norm in Engineering Education: Understanding Organizational Culture and Curricular Change

Prudence Merton, Jeff Froyd, M. Carolyn Clark, and Jim Richardson

Texas A&M University / Texas A&M University/ Texas A&M University/ University of Alabama

Abstract

In the study of organizational behavior, several linkages have been made between organizational change and organizational culture. One link suggests that a “strong” culture is a prerequisite for corporate success, and attaining “excellence” often requires culture change. In the study of change in higher education, there have been suggestions that an institution must have a “culture” that facilitates change, and that change strategies are often shaped by organizational culture. Recently, as presented in the 2003 ASEE conference, Godfrey1 made a considerable contribution to understanding the culture of engineering education by providing a theoretical model that may assist change leaders in understanding the dimensions of their own school’s engineering education culture. She suggests that if the espoused values inherent in any proposed change do not reflect the existing culture at an “operational level,” change will be difficult to sustain.

In the Foundation Coalition (FC) we have been studying the change processes FC partner institutions went through to restructure freshman and sophomore curricula. The six diverse FC institutions attempted major curricular changes based on an identical set of principles using similar change models. We noticed that similar change strategies produced different results. Using two examples from the same institution from our study, this paper will examine change strategies through the framework of organizational culture, a framework in which engineering education culture is subsumed. In showing how organizational culture was a critical variable in curricular changes undertaken by one FC institution, we will show how essential cultural analysis is to any change attempt.

Introduction

Many reports of curricular change in engineering education have focused on descriptions of changes, e.g., the content of new course materials, or the results of changes, e.g., how incorporating new teaching strategies affected student learning. Some of these reports have come from the work of faculty in the NSF-sponsored Foundation Coalition (FC), currently consisting of six institutions: Arizona State University (ASU), Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT), Texas A&M University (TAMU), the University of

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Froyd, J., & Clark, C., & Merton, P., & Richardson, J. (2004, June), Challenging The Norm In Engineering Education: Understanding Organizational Culture And Curricular Change Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13435

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