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Performance Based Curriculum Design

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Programmatic Curriculum Developments

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.923.1 - 8.923.7



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Paper Authors

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Walter Massie

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

Session 2615

Performance-Based Curriculum Design

by W.W. Massie, MSc, P.E. Associate Professor and Curriculum Leader Interfaculty Offshore Engineering Delft University of Technology Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract Too many faculty members approach curriculum revision or design from the standpoint of their own course. The question:“Where does my course fit in the new curriculum?” is heard too often. One of the primary difficulties when revising a curriculum is to focus first on the curriculum as a whole (the cathedral) instead of the bricks (courses) from which it is made.

This paper presents a methodology to focus initial curriculum revision attention on the whole curriculum and the desired performance capabilities of its graduates instead of on its component parts. This methodology has been used successfully at the Delft University of Technology in the design of its Offshore Engineering MSc curriculum as well as its new Civil Engineering BSc curriculum.

The methodology results first in a graphical representation of the curriculum in which a typical graduate’s intellectual development level (for knowledge and for skill) is indicated along vertical axes for each step along the horizontal life-cycle of a typical engineered object. This life-cycle extends from problem definition in step 1 through detailed design and ends with removal and recycling of the object at the end of its economic or useful life in step 12 along that line. The result is a one-page graphical curriculum profile.

The succeeding steps by which this profile has been transformed into a working curriculum (made up of courses) are outlined. A few of the resulting innovations and surprises are indicated as well.

Introduction The curriculum profiling methodology being presented here was first used in a very primitive way by Vugts (1994) 1 when first mapping out a curriculum for Offshore Technology at the Delft University of Technology. Later, this was refined by Vugts et al (2001)2 when re- designing the Delft Civil Engineering curriculum from a single 5-year engineering degree to two-phase BSc-MSc curriculum structure. It has since been further developed by Massie (2002)3. The methodology can be applied to most any engineeing curriculum which involves design in some way.

Most recently, Massie (2003b)5 has become involved as well with the so-called Body of Knowledge (BoK) discussion within the American Society of Civil Engineers. The profiling methodology presented in this paper can be used in this context to further specify (relative to the BoK requirements) a curriculum’s technical content.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Massie, W. (2003, June), Performance Based Curriculum Design Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11416

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: © 2003 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