Asee peer logo

Evolving Models Of Curricular Change: The Experience Of The Foundation Coalition

Download Paper |


2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Curricular Change Issues

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.546.1 - 8.546.18



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Carolyn Clark

author page

Prudence Merton

author page

Jim Richardson

Download Paper |

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

Session 2003-1892

Evolving Models of Curricular Change: The Experience of the Foundation Coalition

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

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


This paper examines one aspect of the curricular change process undertaken by the Foundation Coalition, namely how the understandings about change held by the FC leaders evolved as they moved through the process of developing and implementing a new curriculum. We show how those change models became more complex as they struggled with three major issues: the role of assessment data, the limitations of the pilot for gaining full-scale adoption of the new curriculum, and the need for structural change to sustain the new curriculum.


One of the more recent initiatives in improving undergraduate engineering education has been conducted by the NSF sponsored Foundation Coalition (FC), a partnership between six institutions that, starting in 1993, designed, implemented, and institutionalized innovative freshman and, in some cases, sophomore curricula. In this paper we focus on the FC’s evolving model of the curricular change process. Using examples from different partner institutions we will illustrate how three underlying assumptions about change held by FC leadership proved problematic at different stages of the change process. One assumption is that positive assessment data is sufficient to persuade the rest of the college that the curriculum should be adopted. A second assumption is that the information resulting from the pilot is sufficient in deciding how the curriculum can be improved for all students. And finally, there is an assumption that once the new curriculum is institutionalized, the job of effecting “systemic reform of undergraduate engineering education” is complete. This paper is one product from a qualitative study of the FC curricular change process.


Since the earliest formal review of engineering education during the first International Congress of Engineering in Chicago in 1893 [1], engineers, engineering educators, and representatives from industry and government have been assessing every 20 years or so how well our educational institutions prepare engineers for current social needs. This periodic process of self-investigation, reflection and recommended curricular revision has led one British observer to proclaim American

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Clark, C., & Merton, P., & Richardson, J., & Froyd, J. (2003, June), Evolving Models Of Curricular Change: The Experience Of The Foundation Coalition Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11896

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2003 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015