Integrated engineering - implementation and transition

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Several approaches to improving the student experience and learning outcomes in engineering education have been proposed, including active learing (e.g. flipped classrooms), project-based learning, problem-based learning (PBL), peer-assisted learning (classroom or project-based), peer convening, etc. Some of these approaches have been shown to be very effective at motivating student learning, whilst also developing generic skills (e.g. communication, teamwork) and professional engineering skills (e.g. design, project management).

However, there are some trade-offs, e.g. the latter approaches are often either fragmented in their introduction, or are accompanied by a complete overhaul of the curriculum. It is also often not clear how to effectively mix different forms of pedagogy in an integrated curriculum, nor how to transition a curriculum to incorporate new forms of pedagogy without disruption.

This paper proposes a curriculum framework with a significant proportion of problem-based and peer-assisted learning within an otherwise 'traditional' engineering curriculum. The aim of the framework is to provide a practical transition pathway for substantially increasing the proportion of project-based and peer-assisted learning into an established engineering program without major disruption.

The proposed framework is an extension of the 'Macquarie model' of engineering curriculum, in which core technical units sit around a spine of professional development units. The key innovation is the proposed restructuring of the program from a single spine to an array of "pillars", including a pillar of non-discipline-specific project-based units designed to develop both technical and professional competencies and facilitate peer-assisted learning between students with different specialisations or majors and at different stages of their studies. This will allow the introduction a substantial proportion of project-based and peer assisted learning, and future evolution of the curriculum with minimal disruption.

An integrated curriculum for undergraduate engineering education is proposed that we believe combines the best aspects of a 'traditional' engineering curriculum with project-based and peer-assisted approaches to learning, whilst also providing a practical pathway for transition to engaging methods of pedagogy within existing curriculum frameworks.

We propose an integrated model of engineering curriculum design based on 'pillars' that combines a range of learning approaches, linked as appropriate for the development of contextual and professional and technical knowledge and skills. The framework should also facilitate future evolution of the engineering curriculum, and the development of the broad range of competencies needed by modern engineers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017)
EditorsNazmul Huda, David Inglis, Nicholas Tse, Graham Town
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherMacquarie University
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780646980263
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventAnnual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017) (28th : 2017) - Sydney, Australia
Duration: 10 Dec 201713 Dec 2017
Conference number: 28th


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017) (28th : 2017)
Abbreviated titleAAEE 2017

Bibliographical note

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  • Curriculum
  • project-based learning
  • peer-assisted learning
  • multidisciplinary engineering


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