June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Backward design of academic courses is an evidence-based approach to building coherent assessable learning experiences. Backward design of curriculum is less often practiced, given that most academic programs pre-date publication of research on backward design. This paper describes a backward design process undertaken by a group of faculty at a large research university to develop a new graduate program leading to a PhD in engineering education. The initial design was developed over a 9 month-long process by members of the department’s graduate studies committee and guided by senior members of our university's teaching and learning center who worked with the proposal writing team as a learning community through all aspects of curriculum design and assessment planning. The curriculum design process engaged stakeholders and included creation of learning goals and outcomes; an open, collaborative communication and feedback strategy; in-person presentations at departmental, college, and university faculty meetings, and a presentation at the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
The program goals and learning outcomes describe what this department's faculty considers competence in engineering education, that the successful engineering education doctoral graduate will be able to: 1. Identify, discuss, and address critical issues facing engineering education in alignment with stakeholder needs, 2. Design, conduct, and critique research in engineering education, 3. Demonstrate, value, and apply engineering expertise, 4. Create, teach, and assess courses and curricula in engineering, and 5. Identify, demonstrate, and value appropriate personal and professional skills, mindsets, and traits.
The team developed program learning outcomes to support the five program goals and descriptions of three specific levels of proficiency (e.g., beginning, intermediate, and advanced) for each learning outcome. The levels of proficiency for each of the program learning outcomes were then mapped onto the required courses, electives, and other co-curricular program elements. The curricular map indicates the levels of proficiency in each of the learning outcomes that students are expected to achieve at different stages of their student career and where evaluations of proficiency will occur. Assessment of these learning outcomes within course assignments and during students' annual reviews provides ongoing feedback on students' developing competence in engineering education.
This paper describes lessons learned during the lengthy development, proposal, and approval process and also discusses the need to intentionally on-board new members of the community, including them in ongoing shared curricular improvement, and regularly revisiting the curricular map to ensure that courses are accomplishing what they were intended to accomplish. It is important that required adjustments are made as a community not by individual instructor fiat. We learned that backward design is not just about courses and curricula; it is, perhaps more importantly, about departmental culture.
Christy, A. D., & Johnson, T. A., & Froyd, J. E., & Grzybowski, D. M., & Delaine, D. A., & Dringenberg, E., & Kecskemety, K. M., & Kajfez, R. L., & Casado, A. M., & Kalish, A. (2019, June), Outcomes-based Design of a New Graduate Program Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33150
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