June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
Having choices is linked to both human satisfaction and motivation. A quantitative exploration of curricular choice opportunities across dozens of undergraduate engineering programs yielded evidence of a low-choice culture in engineering education, with engineering students commonly afforded minimal curricular choice and few opportunities to pursue a broad, balanced education compared to their campus peers. Exceptional, highly regarded and accredited engineering programs, while few in number, demonstrated the feasibility of highly flexible, customizable, and balanced programs. Though hypothesized that the low-choice, highly technical engineering curricular model may be a barrier to participation in engineering education, correlations between curricular choice/balance and educational outcomes had not been explored. In this pilot study, curricula and program outcome data were delineated for 21 engineering, math, natural science, and physical science degree programs (nine ABET-accredited, 12 non-accredited) at the University of Colorado Boulder to probe correlations between the amount of course choice and technical—non-technical curricular balance provided by a given program and the program’s 1) median time to degree, 2) six-year graduation rate, 3) average GPA, and 4) percentage of bachelor’s degrees earned by women. Results were mixed as to the potential benefits of flexible, balanced engineering programs, and numerous confounding factors were present in the study. Cross-institutional research that mitigates confounding factors is needed to further explore correlations between engineering program curricular choice opportunities, balance and educational outcomes.
Forbes, M. H., & Bielefeldt, A. R., & Sullivan, J. F., & Chaker, D. (2017, June), Exploring Impacts of Flexible, Balanced Engineering Program Curricula Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28330
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