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Preparation And Reflection: Making Professional Practice Explicit

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Preparing and Retaining Engineering Students

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.970.1 - 14.970.8



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Paper Authors

author page

Prue Howard Central Queensland University

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

Preparation and Reflection – Making Professional Practice Explicit


The Bachelor of Engineering (Co-op) has been offered at CQUniversity, Australia, since 1994. Development of the co-operative education program recognised that real learning from the work placements would require explicit preparation for the work placement, and reflective practice after the placement. The outcome would be the ability of the students to articulate their learning, and recognise their strengths and weaknesses at any stage in the program of study.

Following the introduction of the co-op program, the faculty instituted a staged introduction of activities and processes to achieve the preparation and reflection requirements for the work placement. The changes included a move to Project Based Learning (PBL) with a partially inverted curriculum, and the introduction of a dual award, the Bachelor of Engineering(Coop)/ Diploma of Professional Practice.

PBL and an inverted curriculum was introduced in 1998, with the aim being to ensure that students were sufficiently prepared to work as junior engineers in industry at the end of their second year of study. The PBL curriculum was intended to teach students in context, with content being integrated instead of delivered in discipline silos, as well as developing a number of the professional practice skills required, such as teamwork, communication, critical thinking and problem solving.

The Diploma of Professional Practice was introduced in 2004 to make explicit the preparation for and reflection on the workplace experience. Many of the activities and outcomes addressed by the new Diploma program had been delivered by the faculty prior to this time, but the students had not been given credit, and the faculty had received no payment for the extra work.

This paper describes the programs and justifies the decisions made to offer these programs in this format.

Program History The call for changes in Engineering Programs worldwide has been heard for decades. In the last 2 decades in Australia there have been a number of reviews of engineering education. Two of these have been supported by the Engineering profession and the Deans (IEAust1 and King2). The outcome is that it is well recognised that educators now need to develop graduates with attributes and abilities previously not considered core to their professional practice. As a result there has been an attempt to redefine professional engineering practice (Thom3). International conferences since have called for the development of generic attributes in engineers, which encompass the multi-faceted concepts of engineering practice (Boeing Company and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute4). While much of this discussion was happening, some individual universities were anticipating and addressing the issues. With the aim of better preparing its graduates for the industrial work place

Howard, P. (2009, June), Preparation And Reflection: Making Professional Practice Explicit Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5820

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