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Project based learning and professional practice : enhancing co-operative education
The Bachelor of Engineering program at Central Queensland University has been run in the Co-operative Education mode for over ten years. In 1998, in response to a range of stimuli, Project Based Learning (PBL) was introduced to complement and enhance the program. The stimuli consisted of a need to better prepare students for their work placements, a recognition of the fundamental problems with the old program structure, and a recognition of the need to respond to significant social changes. These social changes are relevant to theengineering profession, especially in the context of sustainability, and graduates need to be aware of, and attuned to, their importance.The development of the combined PBL/Co-operative engineering programwas the result of extensive national and international study. The combined program provided context for holistic student learning and practice, and an integrated learning environment. It was determined after this program had run for several years that professionalpractice knowledge and skills were acknowledged elements of the program. However they needed to be made explicit. It was recognized that students could be even better prepared for their work placements, and ultimately graduation. The development of a dual awardprogram introduced in 2004, combined a Diploma of Professional Practice with the PBL Bachelor of Engineering (Cooperative Education). This combination expressly identified, and enabled students to demonstrate, the acquisition of professional practice knowledge, skills and attitudes. This professional practice component of the dual award program, in concert with the PBL and Co-operative Education elements, ensured the students’ preparation for, application of, and reflection on these professional practice skills. These skills have been acknowledged world wide as a requirement for a professional engineer in the 21st century. This paper is the second of two companion papers.