June 15, 1997
June 15, 1997
June 18, 1997
2.417.1 - 2.417.5
The Impact of Interdisciplinary Faculty Teams on Engineering Technology Curricula
James C. Wood, Lynn Mack Tri-County Technical College / Piedmont Technical College
Industrial leaders1,2,3 continue to emphasize the change occurring in the workplace and the need for a better educated workforce for US industry to be competitive in the world market place. Employers need a pool of highly qualified, technically sophisticated, and versatile engineering technology graduates. These new technicians must be team players who communicate well but are independent problem solvers who can integrate concepts from many disciplines. When employers are asked to prioritize the competencies engineering technology graduates need, they place communication and teamwork at the top of the list. Their message is clear, technicians must have interdisciplinary skills which include both technical and not-technical competencies that enable them to analyze, problem solve, communicate effectively, and learn continuously as the work place changes.
The sixteen technical colleges of the South Carolina Technical College System have undertaken the task to meet this educational challenge with a state-wide systemic initiative to re-engineer the college's engineering technology programs. This re-engineering must include not only curriculum content to make it relevant to the demands of the workplace, but it must also implement new pedagogy and current instructional technologies. However, before a reform curriculum can be developed and taught, there must be a reform-ready faculty to develop and teach the curriculum. These faculty must reflect the interdisciplinary needs of the workplace in the classroom and model workplace practices. To facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum development, the South Carolina Technical College System has begun to develop interdisciplinary teams of mathematics, science, communications, and technology faculty from each college.
Traditional engineering technology curricula are based on a compartmentalized, discipline-based curriculum, delivered in a passive, teacher-centered instructional approach. The traditional curriculum is not designed to easily foster the cross-fertilization, synthesis and application of material from different disciplines to solve real problems, or to develop student communications and collaboration skills. Educational research4,5,6 has shown that the majority of the students entering the technology colleges do not learn as effectively in the traditional lecture teacher- centered instructional mode as they can learn in a contextual, student-centered active learning environment. Also many7 have shown that the learning styles of the students are varied and, therefore, require various teaching methods to create an effective learning environment.
Mack, L. G., & Wood, J. C. (1997, June), The Impact Of Interdisciplinary Faculty Teams On Engineering Technology Curricula Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6600
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