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Engineering Curricula Change Across The Foundation Coalition: How They Succeeded, What They Learned

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



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Page Numbers

6.423.1 - 6.423.7



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Carolyn Clark

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Prudence Merton

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Jim Richardson

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

Session 2793

Engineering Curricula Change across the Foundation Coalition: How They Succeeded, What They Learned

Prudence Merton, Carolyn Clark, Jim Richardson, Jeffrey Froyd Texas A&M University / Texas A&M University / University of Alabama / Texas A&M University

Abstract The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the engineering education coalitions program to profoundly change the culture of engineering education. The culture of engineering education encompasses not only the way an engineering curriculum is prepared and shared with students, but also the processes through which engineering curricula grow and improve. Therefore, the Foundation Coalition has undertaken a qualitative research project that examines processes through which coalition partners have initiated and attempted to sustain curricular change. It is important to emphasize that the focus of the study is the process of curricular change, not content of new curricula. The project is organized as series of six qualitative case studies that examine curricular change at each of the partner institutions. Data for each case study is collected through interviews of approximately twenty key faculty and administrators as well as review of relevant documentation. Each case study identifies critical events and salient issues involved in that process, as well as valuable lessons each institution learned from their experience. To date, interviews have been conducted at four the six institutions, but the present report will be based on data from the first three institutions at which interviews have been completed. To date, several themes have emerged from analysis. • Each of the institutions initiated curricular improvement by developing a pilot program and offering it to a relatively small number of students. Initiating improvement via pilot programs is well-accepted developmental strategy for engineering artificial systems, but it offers benefits and presents challenges in an educational environment. Expanding from a pilot curriculum to a curriculum for an entire college of engineering also presents challenges in terms of faculty development and facility costs. Pilots should be planned both to study the proposed improvements as well as to support eventual adoption across the entire college. • Building support for curricular improvement within and beyond the College of Engineering required significantly more design and effort than anticipated by the change leaders. Based on the interviews, building support requires widespread communication, selection of influential faculty, political strategizing and assessment data. Communication plans require substantial up-front investment in addition to the efforts required to implement the plans.

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Clark, C., & Merton, P., & Richardson, J., & Froyd, J. (2001, June), Engineering Curricula Change Across The Foundation Coalition: How They Succeeded, What They Learned Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9185

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