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Under Construction: Curriculum Reform In Progress

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.494.1 - 1.494.6

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Paper Authors

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Steve Moser

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Michael Bluhm

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Allan Goodman

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Sarah Lynn Garrett

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

I -- —... .- Session 2306

- ..— Under Construction: Curriculum Reform in Progress

Steve Moser, Michael Bluhm, Sarah Garrett, Allan Goodman Department of Architectural Engineering and Construction Science Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas

For the last several years, in engineering education there has been an emphasis on applications, case studies and problems based education. Much of this work has been devoted to improving individual courses. Our project team has completed a first iteration of curriculum reform which uses applications, woven throughout the engineering curriculum as a means to motivate learning and provide relevance to course work. This paper reviews our work to date, summarizes what we are learning about the systems required for sustained reform, and outlines our direction for the next step of work. We will also discuss the impact of this project on our department and some of the interesting dimensions of what is required to pull off reform across the curriculum.

Our Initial Vision We have identified a problem with engineering education. Our pragmatic students want to know why before they are motivated to 1- but we wait until senior design and capstone courses to show them. By not tapping -ihto the students motivational core at the beginning of their university educatio~ we have missed one of our best educational opportunities. Using our architectural engineering program at Kansas State University, we have developed, implemented and tested a new model of an integrate~ application-oriented curriculum. Our department focusses primarily on undergraduate educatio~ with two large B. S. programs (330 students in architectural engineering and 240 students in construction science and management). We have a large number of faculty who have returned to the classroom afler working in the engineering and construction industries(1). We are in our final year of a three year curriculum reform experiment supported by the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE). -Our model restructures the traditional engineering education sequence by integrating concepts, ovewiews and application awareness into the curriculum beginning at the earliest contact with the student, and continuing throughout the student’s education (2). We intentionally focused new courses in the critical first and second years where students have little contact with department faculty but potentially would benefit the most from the motivation of seeing applications for the fimdamental theory they are learning. The first element of our reform model is an “Orienteering Track”. This cornerstone course was designed as a two-semester sequence of weekly activities, presentations, and outside-of-class experiences. The objective is to provide the freshman student with an experience-based, conceptual understanding of how buildings work what architectural engineers do, how architectural engineers think, and what architectural engineers need to know. Throughout the first year, students are introduced to our entire faculty, listen to overview presentations of major career options in architectural engineering take field trips to construction sites and building science laboratories on campus, and hear from practicing professionals from across the country. This lays a foundation for understanding what the profession is about and provides a context f?om which entering students can view their course of study and educational experience.

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Moser, S., & Bluhm, M., & Goodman, A., & Garrett, S. L. (1996, June), Under Construction: Curriculum Reform In Progress Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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