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Designing A Process For Department Curricular Reform

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Conference

2006 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

ChE: Curriculum Reform & Assessment

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

11.416.1 - 11.416.14

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/650

Download Count

30

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Paper Authors

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Jeff Froyd is a Research Professor in the Center for Teaching Excellence and Director of Academic Development at Texas A&M University. He was Project Director for the Foundation Coalition, one of the NSF Engineering Education Coalitions and now serves as Project Director for “Changing Faculty through Learning Communities,” a project sponsored by the NSF Research on Gender in Science and Engineering Program.

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biography

Jean Layne Texas A&M University

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Jean Layne works as a Program Coordinator and Instructional Consultant in the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Division of Academic Development at Texas A&M University. Her professional interests include how people learn and how the evolution from novice to expert occurs within the disciplines.

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Lale Yurttas Texas A&M University

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Lale Yurttas is a Senior Lecturer and Assistant Department Head in Chemical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University. She chairs Departmental ABET Committee. She also participates in Engineers Without Borders-USA, especially in TAMU Chapter and coordinates service learning activities for the current NSF project. She has 10 years of experience in engineering education and curriculum development.

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David Ford Texas A&M University

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David M. Ford is currently the K.R. Hall Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He received his B.S. degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his M.S.E. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, all in Chemical Engineering. His research interests include statistical thermodynamics and molecular simulation.

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

Designing a Process for Department Curricular Reform

Abstract

Given pressures from various directions to improve engineering education, department curricular renewal is an important and timely topic. Often, renewal efforts focus first upon content, e.g., What topics should be added? What topics should be revised? What topics should be removed? While content receives considerable attention, recent studies of curricular reform have suggested that increased attention to the process of curricular reform might lead to broader, deeper, and more lasting improvements. With these studies in mind, the Departments of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University Kingsville, and Prairie View A&M University, as they begin their journeys of curricular renewal, are constructing a process through which they hope to achieve sweeping and durable improvements. The paper reports on how well the process has been realized, how faculty members have responded to the initiatives, and how prospects for continued progress appear.

Introduction

The importance of departmental curricular reform is being increasingly recognized and many departments are engaged in this area1-3. In some cases, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has supported their efforts through Department-Level Reform (DLR) planning and implementation grants4–15. Typically, curricular reform efforts focus on content. This is understandable since faculty members are passionate about critical content mastery that they hope to see from their students. However, while increasing overall content knowledge merits such attention, there is more than content to be considered. How the content is presented, what students are expected to do with that content, and how the learning process is designed, modeled, and assessed are all issues pertinent to curriculum reform. Recent studies of curricular reform have suggested that increased attention to the process of curricular reform might lead to broader, deeper, and more lasting improvements1,2,16,17. With these studies in mind, the Departments of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University Kingsville, and Prairie View A&M University, as they began their journeys of curricular renewal in September 2005 with support from the NSF DRL program, are constructing a process through which they hope to achieve sweeping and durable improvements.

Challenges to sustainable departmental curricular reform are manifold. First, there is tension between the perspective of a curriculum as a unified whole that is intended to shape the characteristics of its graduates and the perspective of the curriculum as a collection of individual courses for which individual faculty members accept responsibility. Fisher, Fairweather, and Amey described this as “the tension between collective responsibility and the boundaries of academic freedom”2. Understandably, faculty concern regarding curriculum tends to focus most strongly on courses related to their area of professional expertise that they teach. Secondly, faculty members focus on courses that are prerequisite to courses of interest (specifically the degree to which students emerging from these courses are prepared for the next course in the sequence). From the perspective of the individual faculty member, the “curriculum” may be

Froyd, J., & Layne, J., & Yurttas, L., & Ford, D. (2006, June), Designing A Process For Department Curricular Reform Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/650

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