June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Electrical and Computer
11.1074.1 - 11.1074.17
Redesign of the Core Curriculum at Duke University
The entire undergraduate curriculum of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University is undergoing substantive revisions. Our goals are to revise the overall structure of the curriculum while incorporating a theme of Integrated Sensing and Information Processing (ISIP), to provide continuity by emphasizing the interrelatedness of ECE topic areas, and to incorporate innovative pedagogical techniques and hands-on experience throughout the curriculum while maintaining our curricular flexibility. The ISIP theme is compatible with research strengths of our faculty, and the broader themes of biology, economics, and computer science that our students often pursue with their electives. Our focus in the first year of the curriculum reform has been on restructuring and redefining the core curriculum, responding to assessment results, implementing several new assessment tools, and planning and executing two pedagogical workshops. In this paper, we describe the process by which we have modified the core curriculum and the results of the redesign. [This work was supported by NSF grant EEC- 0431812].
Initial assessment activities associated with our legacy curriculum indicated several areas that needed to be strengthened. First, students rarely felt they understood the coherent, overarching framework that integrates basic principles. Second, there was an unbalanced coverage of fundamental areas of ECE. Finally, the laboratory and design elements of the curriculum were not optimally utilized.
We developed a framework for the core which includes 6 classes, the second of which (denoted ECE 27 and titled Fundamentals of ECE) is a first-year design experience which introduces students to all aspects of the ECE curriculum. The first course remains the Computational Methods in Engineering which was recently redesigned and has achieved outstanding assessment results. The remaining four courses are Introduction to Microelectronic Devices and Circuits, Signals and Systems, Logic and Computer Architecture, and Electromagnetics. This structure substantially reduces the legacy material focused on circuits and devices, and as described in the paper uses a different pedagogical structure in each of the four core courses. In order to achieve our goals, and to carefully ensure consideration of tradeoffs associated with the redesign, we developed a series of roles to effect the organization necessary for the reform process. The key roles that have been developed and assigned are (1) course leader, (2) theme team, (3) approval team, (4) advisory team, and (5) project manager. In the paper, the roles and responsibilities of each of these groups in the process is also described.
To proceed with the redesign of the core, the course leaders were responsible for developing the course content, syllabus, homeworks, tests, and lab manuals in concert with their course team. Course leaders met separately with their course teams, and then periodically the course leaders, along with the management team, met to assess progress and work out various issues. The Signals and Systems and Electromagnetics courses have been modified the least in terms of the material covered, but have been dramatically strengthened through the introduction of a hands- on laboratory that is tightly integrated with the course and consistent with the curricular theme. Additional material has also been added since some of the material historically taught in the class
Holmes, J., & Massoud, H., & Cummer, S., & Board, J., & Coonley, K., & Brown, A., & Gustafson, M., & Collins, L., & Huettel, L., & Ybarra, G. (2006, June), Redesign Of The Core Curriculum At Duke University Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/816
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