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Invited Paper - Competence-oriented curriculum development for engineering-pedagogic training of academic teachers

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2013 ASEE International Forum


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 22, 2013

Start Date

June 22, 2013

End Date

June 22, 2013

Conference Session

Track 3 - Session I - Faculty Development

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Invited - Faculty Development

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Page Numbers

21.36.1 - 21.36.6



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Paper Authors


Ralph Dreher PhD P.E. International Society for Engineering Education (G

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Born 1965 in Neumuenster, Germany,
1984 High-School-Diploma,
1987 Diploma as Car Mechanic (vocational Education),
1991 Diploma as Teacher for vocational schools,
1993 PhD
1999- 2008 Lecturer at the Technical Universitzy of Hamburg and University of Flensburg, parallel working as Teacher for vocationl Education in the field of Automotive Service
2000 - 2007 Scientific Leader for three projects for training Teachers and academich staff in the field of engineering in Germany, Bangladesh and Austria
2008 Full Professorship for Didactic of vocational Education at the University of Wuppertal
2000 Member of IGIP (International Society of Enginnering Paedogic);
2005 Co-Author of the ING-PAED-IGIP-Curriculum to become Enginnerin-Pedagogist;
2006 - 2010 EC-Member of IGIP
2010 research Director of IGP

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Competence-oriented curriculum development for engineering- pedagogic training of academic teachersAbstractThe following report explains, why it is necessary, to train academic teachers by using a“competence-oriented” curriculum. That means, to give the teachers the chance, to workproject-oriented and to learn to reflect their own working and problem-solutions in teaching.To demonstrate the possibility of such curriculum, a prototype was developed by using themethods of vocational-science. That means to analyze the work-processes of academicteachers about their core work-tasks and to transfer this to project-based modules ofengineering education.Keywords: PBL, PBE, TVET, Bachelor, educationProblem in brief: About the duality of engineering BA Courses of studyConcept of engineering BA/MA Courses of studyThe concept of a BA course of study resulting in a professional qualification with a MAcourse of study building on that has become globally accepted.However, after the implementation of a BA/MA- concept in Europe (“Bologna-Process”), ithas become apparent that the concept of separating a practice-oriented application orientation(BA) and a scientific research orientation (MA) is not target-aimed, particularly with regardto ambitious occupational groups. This is because in practice a challenging professionencompassed the necessity to and the responsibility for design, which means to assumeresponsibility for how to act professionally, as well as for how to deal with the consequencesof these actions and also to determine to which extent an optimum has been accomplished orits reasons for a failure. Thus, the implied demand for a social, environmental andeconomical responsibility of ones own actions characterizes the modern and likewisepractice-oriented concepts of vocational education. In view of this development in the field ofvocational education and taking into consideration the fact that each individual has to be ableto fill a big spot in the larger scope in the flat personnel hierarchies of current concepts ofconceptualizing and producing, a scientific engineering university education is not able toclose its mind to these progressions.This means that: With all due respect to the importance of practice-orientation, meaning thefacilitation of preplanned resp. previously tested solution strategies, a scientific engineeringcourse of study on has to allow for the students to analyze these strategies with regard to theirvalue, to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, to fathom their possibilities andrestrictions and to reflect on their usefulness and accountability in a way that impacts onesown actions. These processes make an examination of the surrounding society and the, thus,developed philosophy and, ultimately, the penetration of the surrounding culture in terms ofHumboldt, necessary and have turned into a fundamental feature of BA course of study. Theability to act independently and self-regulatory based on a system of values, which constantlydifferentiates itself constantly, appears to be a basic requirement for scientific engineeringwork to be able to operate innovatively and efficiently. This is (with a look to the Europeanand in special case the German Situation) the only explanation as to why the EHEA(European Higher Education Area) has declared the fostering of these actions as the essenceof BA Courses of study (Cf. in addition the EU’s demand voiced in the program “New skillsfor new jobs”, which perceives the fostering of the previously presented skills as a keycharacteristic of BA-Courses of study [1]).So it is useful to understand, that BA-Courses have two functions (or that it is a duality).They must prepare directly for vocational working by training the special (practical) skillsand (theoretical) methods of the Engineering discipline, but they also must educate thestudents to become self-reflected parts of the society.Competence-Development as primary aim in Engineering EduationLooking to the duality of BA-Courses described above, the responsibility of academic staff inengineering education is to develop the competence of their students. This means, looking tothe definition of competence as the disposition to solve problems in a responsible fashion,that the students should often work in teams with case studies.While working on and solving the case studies, the students will not only learn specificengineering knowledge, but they will also be taught to understand the value of thisknowledge and how it is used. Thus, they will simultaneously develop their methodology andsocial skills. But it is a new challenge for the academic staff (special in research-oriented Universities) tocreate such case studies (“problems”) on the level of BA-Courses and to moderate the processof problem solving within the groups of students.Moreover, often, the academic teachers get the wrong idea, thinking that it will be better toinstruct the students like it was done in the “good old times”.Therefore, the core idea of a competence-oriented curriculum of engineering-pedagogic foracademic staff is, that it is also competence-oriented and will work with case studies. Hence,the academic teachers have the chance to understand how fruitful this way of learning is andthat it is a great chance to develop competences during their own process of learning: TEACHER`S LEARNING BIOGRAPHY = HIS STYLE OF ENGINEERING EDUCATIONFollowing this simple awareness, the Education Staff for Engineering Education must betrained with the same (competence-oriented) methods as it is fruitful for the students. Thatmeans in fact: Looking to the idea of HAVIGHURST about principle of task-oriented learning[4], the curricula of Enginnering Education for the training staff must be dominated by PBE-oriented Development-tasks a core elements (Modules) of the curriculum-structure..Short Explanation: From PBL to PBEPBE as a further development of PBLProject Based Learning (PBL) does allow for a domineering orientation on real-lifeengineering scientific problems throughout the whole course of study. Furthermore, it fostersthe ability to learn individually, work in interconnected project structures and, thus, above allthe fostering of communicative skills. However, the concept lacks the component of fosteringinternal as well as external reflection, which turns out to be one of the key qualities of anengineer according to the previously presented argumentation.Hence, learning is no longer the dominating characteristic of the future’s scientificengineering course of study. Instead, the BA course of study is to be understood as a processof educating. Education throughout such a course of study is achieved by presenting thestudents with appropriate complex engineering tasks. These tasks are primarily tailored tofoster the ability to work by making sure that the solution process is dominated by questionson ones strengths and weaknesses, the values of ones work, the likes and dislikes of certainsolutions for problems, the allocation of roles within the project’s network, the accountabilityand its outward presentation etc. must reflect by the students. So, each student become anidea about his personal strength and weakness and what is to do in the next step of hiseducation as engineer in the fields of engineering, methodology and social qualifications.Thus, a course of study through project work with the integrated element of group- andpersonal reflection as key for education, labeled PBE (Problem Based Education) in thefollowing.Characteristics of a PBE-oriented qualification of lecturersLecturers who implement the concept of PBE and, therefore, want to fulfill its aspiration forcontinuous reflections have to be able to: • Select project tasks appropriate for vocation and education • Purposefully supervise project groups (maintain project and group status) • Ask situationally appropriate questions of reflection, which allow for an individual (!) personal development • Constructively chair emotional challenging phases of reflectionAccording to existing experiences of the lecturer qualification, the conveyance of such skillsis not accomplished through a theoretical penetration of the learning theory behind theconcept (which naturally has to be taught, however, is not key) and also not with the help ofthe development of strategies for a didactic decision-finding and conversation techniques.Instead, the fact that lectures tend to prefer teaching methods with which they havesuccessfully learned has to be taken advantage of [2].Proposal: PBE-oriented curriculum in teacher trainingKey characteristics of the modulesIn compliance with the previously constructed principle, a PBE-oriented curriculum shouldpresent lecturers with the opportunity to experience processes of reflection in tangiblevocational tasks as part of their own biography of learning during their engineeringpedagogic education.Consequently, such a curriculum has to feature self-contained units of reflective learning ofessential engineering pedagogic tasks– modules, which respectively include an engineeringpedagogic task and are to be worked on reflectively.Crucial is not only the content of such a module but also that the modules individually showspecific moments and strategies of phases of reflection.Content and string of the modulesRegarding the definition of the contents of modules, methods of vocational scientific macroanalysis have been used [3]. This means that based on work observations and workshops withlecturers and experts the various types of classes have been identified as essential in Fig. 1:Fig. 1: Structure of a modularized EP-CurriculumThe string of the tasks from “Designing of a lecture” through to “Working with projects” actsup to the developmentally logic principle of learning, fundamentally described byHAVIGHURST with his “Developing Tasks” [4], DREYFUSS/DREYFUSS with the subsequentprinciple of novice to expert [5], further developed to a structural moment of curricula andNEUWEG [6] with his term of salience:Occupational problems, which, depending on the training location, allow for a certain degreeof complexity, are to be chosen carefully. This means that they should not refer to explicit ordefault solutions or their approaches (“solution space”, which allows for individual andpersonal but always justifiable decisions). This space for solutions and, thus, their scope fordesign are to grow with increasing length of the training and by taking into account thepreviously gained experiences – the task is to become more complex [6]. In correspondence,the necessity of reflection has been basally embedded in Fig. 1 below: Self-evaluation is partof each phase of development (which inevitably includes the process of reflection) and lateron complemented by the module component “external evaluation” (includes feedback fromstudents and teachers).Curricular description of a moduleFor a start, the structure of a curriculum, presented in Fig. 1, gives an overview on a PBE-oriented engineering pedagogic curriculum. However, CP-requirements, moduleorganization, concrete training contents and mandatory causes for reflection are notmentioned.Therefore, each module has to be described in a curricular manner. Attention has to be paid tothe fact that these descriptions have to present an obligation on the one hand, but allow forflexibility on the other hand, so that the curriculum can be implemented in various locations.Thus, it seems to be sensible that the module descriptions are made of the same categories,which specify extent, contents and methods along with different options for theirimplementation. The following paragraphs will describe the module “Designing of a lecture”and is to be seen as an example: • Module: “Designing of a Lecture” (2 CP) • Aim: Designing a lecture within 90 min in the preferred scientific discipline • Exemplary content: Types of teaching, typical structure of lessons (phases), usage of media, basics of learning psychology and social-class-analysis, typical systems to decide social form, media, the role of the teacher and the students and needed time, planning-scheme, evaluation-systems for lectures. • Result: Planning, teaching and evaluating a lecture of 90 min • Reflection (two systems recommended): Self-evaluation by using the planning- scheme, interview with students, structured feedback from colleagues with guideline, self-video-analysis.References[1] o.N.: New Skills for New Jobs: Action Now. A report by the Expert Group on New Skillsfor New Jobs prepared for the European Commission. February 2010[2] Spöttl, Georg, Dreher, Ralph, Becker, Matthias: Eine kompetenzorientierte Lernkultur alsLeitbild für die Lehrerbildung. In: Becker, Matthias, Dreher, Ralph, Spöttl, Georg (ed.):Lehrerbildung und Schulentwicklung in neuer Balance. Qualifizierungskonzepte fürLehrkräfte zur Vorbereitung auf veränderte Schulstrukturen. Bremen, 2004, S. 42 – 56.[3] Rauner, F.: Berufsbildungsforschung – eine Einführung. In: Rauner, F.(ed.).: HandbuchBerufsbildungsforschung. Bielefeld 2006, 2. aktualisierte Auflage. pp19-26.[4] Havighurst, R.J.: Developmental tasks and Education. New York 1974, 3rd print.[5] Dreyfus, H. L.; Dreyfus, S. E: Künstliche Intelligenz. Von den Grenzen der Denkmaschine und dem Wert der Intuition. Reinbek b. Hamburg 1987[6] Neuweg, Georg Hans: Könnerschaft und implizites Wissen. Zur lehr-lerntheoretischen Bedeutung der Erkenntnis- und Wissenstheorie Michael Polanyis. Münster u.a.O., 2.Auflage 2001.

Dreher, R. (2013, June), Invited Paper - Competence-oriented curriculum development for engineering-pedagogic training of academic teachers Paper presented at 2013 ASEE International Forum, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--17241

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