Asee peer logo

Investigation of Effect of Curriculum Change on Students’ Performance in Knowledge-building and Knowledge-integration Subjects

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE International Forum


Columbus , Ohio

Publication Date

June 28, 2017

Start Date

June 28, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Concurrent Paper Tracks Session II - Curriculum II

Tagged Topic

Main Forum (Podium Presentation)

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


U. P. Kahangamage The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

visit author page

Udaya Kahangamage is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He received his PhD from University of Bristol, UK. Currently, he teaches courses related to Engineering Design, Product Design and Manufacturing. His interest includes innovative teaching pedagogies for effective learning, sustainable design, cleaner production and development of appropriate technologies for developing world.

visit author page


Randolph C. K. Leung The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr Leung's research interest is in flow-induced sound and
structural vibration, computational aeroacoustics, aviation
science, diagnostics and control for product noise and vibration,
product sound quality design. He received his BEng(Hons) in
Mechanical Engineering in 1992 and PhD in Fluid Dynamics and
Acoustics in 1998, both from The University of Hong Kong. He
then continued his postdoctoral research in acoustic resonance
of marine gas turbine exhaust system at the Department of
Engineering, University of Cambridge, U.K. in 1998 and
flow-induced vibration of turbine blade at the Department of
Mechanical Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
in 1999. Afterwards, he moved to industry and took up a sound
engineer position at Emerson Climate Technologies, supporting
the sound and vibration design for reciprocating/scroll
refrigeration compressors and systems. Dr Leung joined The
Hong Kong Polytechnic University again in 2002 as an
Assistant Professor and now is serving as an Associate
Professor. Apart from extensive teaching and research
activities, he also actively provides consultancy practices to

visit author page

author page

Gloria S.L Cheung The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

author page

Alan S. L. Kwok

Download Paper |


In Hong Kong a major educational reform, known as “3+3+4” has been implemented in the recent past. The new system replaced the old three-year undergraduate curriculum with a new four-year curriculum. One of the objectives of this change is to provide the students with student- centred and multidisciplinary learning experience that will improve their generic skills preparing them for a complex, mobile and challenging work environment. The curriculum of Mechanical Engineering programme of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been changed in alignment with the core requirements of new system and the first cohort of students was admitted to new four-year programme in year 2012. With the graduation of this first cohort in year 2016, this study aims to investigate the effect of curriculum change on the students’ performance.

First the performance of 82 Mechanical Engineering graduates from the new system were investigated. Their Award Grade Point Average (AGPA) were compared with the performance in some selected core knowledge-building and knowledge-integration subjects which are mostly common across new and old curriculums. The basic objective of knowledge-building subjects is to gradually develop discipline specific knowledge while knowledge-integration subjects focused more on students’ all-round abilities and workplace skill development. The findings show that the students’ final AGPA is strongly correlated to knowledge-building subjects, such as mathematics (r = 0.82, p < 0.001), physics (r = 0.87, p < 0.001) and mechanics (r = 0.86, p < 0.001) while the correlation with major knowledge-integration subject, Final Year Capstone Project (r = 0.24, p < 0.05) is relatively weak. This cohort of students consists of 2 major groups, students admitted directly based on Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) results (4 years in the university – HKDSE intake) and the Senior Year intake from those who have completed 2 years of relevant associate degree programmes (2 years in the university – SY intake). The population of students investigated consists of 53 HKDSE intake students and 29 SY intake students. When analysed separately, both groups’ AGPA showed a strong positive correlation with their performance in knowledge-building subjects which is expected. However, their performance in Final Year Capstone Project showed a significant difference. SY intake students’ capstone project performance showed a moderate positive correlation (r = 0.47, p < 0.05) while that of HKDSE intake students showed no correlation (r = 0.099, p = 0.479). Therefore, the award classification among HKDSE intake students does not adequately reflect their all-round abilities and workplace skills. The results indicate that students who have completed a 2 years associate degree prior to university admission have developed workplace related skills significantly while regular intake students have not managed to develop those skills adequately despite the fact that they have followed the full new curriculum in the university for 4 years. The same has been analysed for 5 most recent cohorts of graduates from the old curriculum and no significant difference in performance has been observed. It is premature to make a conclusion about the effectiveness of the newly introduced curriculum based on the data of one cohort of students considered in this study. However, it is significant enough to conduct further investigation to understand the contributing factors for the observed differences of performance. This paper presents some of those contributing factors that may be of interest to international audience.

Kahangamage, U. P., & Leung, R. C. K., & Cheung, G. S., & Kwok, A. S. L. (2017, June), Investigation of Effect of Curriculum Change on Students’ Performance in Knowledge-building and Knowledge-integration Subjects Paper presented at 2017 ASEE International Forum, Columbus , Ohio.

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: © 2017 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