June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.576.1 - 11.576.14
Engineering Students for the 21st Century: An ongoing case study in curriculum reform at a large state university
This paper presents a case study of Engineering Students for the 21st Century (ES21C), an ongoing effort to reform the undergraduate electrical engineering program at Oklahoma State University (OSU). OSU is a large, research intensive, land grant institution with approximately 20,000 students. The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECEN) enrolls approximately 400 undergraduate students, primarily Oklahoma residents. The engineering program is similar to programs at peer institutions, with a two year pre-engineering curriculum followed by a two years of discipline-specific courses. Most students take five years to graduate, and the graduation rates of students entering the program as well as student diversity are below national averages. The faculty teaching load is higher than that at many peer universities, and reward and promotion is tied closely to research. Before the reform effort reported here, there had been no major changes to the electrical engineering curriculum in over a decade.
This paper is organized chronologically. The first section reports on the initial reform effort using a trial model that involved five courses that replaced lecture with case studies1,2, problem based learning3, and a modified form of team learning4,5. The second section of this paper discusses how ECEN is beginning implementation of more comprehensive reform to emphasize student development. The comprehensive reform, funded through a National Science Foundation Department Level Reform Implementation award, avoids many of the pitfalls and errors made in the initial reform effort.
Preliminary Curriculum Reform Efforts
In late 2002 curriculum reevaluation was started through support of a National Science Foundation Planning Grant for Department Level Reform of Engineering Education. The reform effort was based on the hypothesis that learning was enhanced when engineering courses were relevant to students’ existing preconceptions of engineering, and students’ experiences in the classroom match their preconceptions. Relevance was created by focusing reform around three goals. First, student engagement and attitude would be improved by changing courses from a traditional lecture format to one which emphasized in-depth analysis of authentic problems by student teams. Reformed courses sacrificed breadth of coverage for depth of understanding. The second goal was to make students more independent learners who relied less on the instructor for understanding and more on peers, books, or computer models. Courses reduced the emphasis on summative evaluation, and replaced it with formative evaluation. The third goal was to provide experiences that mimic the environment of practicing engineers by incorporating team projects emphasizing communication and peer evaluation.
Bunting, C., & Cheville, A. (2006, June), Engineering Students For The 21 St Century Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--860
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