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Implementing Bologna: An Assessment Of A Unified Modern Approach To Teach Thermodynamics And Heat Transfer

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

International Initiatives, Partnerships,Teaching Strategies, and Collaborative Networks

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.681.1 - 15.681.14



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Paper Authors

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Joao Paiva Politecnico de Viseu

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

Implementing Bologna: an assessment of a unified modern approach to teach Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer


Ten years have passed since European higher education systems' Ministers formally agreed to sign the Bologna Declaration, thus establishing a strong commitment between EU governments to build a large educational area, improve transparency and, especially, compatibility between national systems. There is, however, an apparently minor aspect of this issue that tends to be overlooked: the change of focus from transmission of knowledge to acquiring skills, i.e., abandoning traditional scholarly pedagogical practices that relied on successfully completing syllabi and formal evaluation of students. The definition of academic and professional profiles should now be related to identifying and developing skills students have acquired. These are supposed to be the core items of the system's institutional and government assessment, which will eventually be performed under Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development/European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (OCDE/ENQA) guidelines by a Higher Education Quality Assurance Agency (HEQAA).

This paper describes the implementation of a problem based learning approach in both thermodynamics and heat and mass transfer with the aim of achieving some of skills expected for competent engineering graduates. The measures that are supposed to allow for the construction of an adequate basic conceptual structure in applied situations are reported, at the same time that dealing with the need to formulate solutions to open-ended problems is supposed to fill the gap between theoretical and professional areas. Again, these are skills that shall be assessed under the HEQAA. Nevertheless, almost four years later, the internal assessment that has been carried out in these courses does not show significant improvements on the average level of graduates. This paper also tries to identify the main factors affecting this fact.

1. Introduction

Higher education, or Tertiary education, as the OECD1,2 has recently introduced in its own Glossary of Statistical Terms, including Further education, is undoubtedly a major concern of governments. It has been recognized as one of the major drivers for economic competitiveness in a globalised world, which has been demonstrating how education is playing an increasingly important role. Europe is engaged in improving citizens’ ability to deal with and being able to prosper in a world of ever increasing global competitiveness. The Bologna process is part of that strategy.

The OECD has defined two types of programs. Type A programs that represent heavily theory-based curricula designed to provide qualifications for entry to advanced research programs and professions with high skill requirements, such as medicine, dentistry or architecture. Type B programs are typically shorter than type A and focus on practical, technical or occupational skills for direct entry into the labor market, although some theoretical foundations may be covered in the respective programs. They have a minimum duration of two years full-time equivalent at the tertiary level. The maximum reduction that took place was between three and five years with engineering graduations appearing both in type A and B programs. This is also the Portuguese case.

Paiva, J. (2010, June), Implementing Bologna: An Assessment Of A Unified Modern Approach To Teach Thermodynamics And Heat Transfer Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15838

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