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Response strategies for curriculum change in engineering
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by A Kolmos, Roger HadgraftRoger Hadgraft, J Holgaard
During the last 25 years, there have been many calls for new engineering competencies and a corresponding gradual change in both curriculum and pedagogy in engineering education. This has been a global trend, in the US, Europe, Australia and now emerging in the rest of the world. Basically, there have been two main types of societal challenges that many engineering institutions have responded to: the employability skills of graduates and the need for a sustainability approach to engineering. These are two very different challenges and societal needs; however, the ways engineering institutions have responded form a consistent pattern across many of the content aspects. No matter the specific character of change, three very different curriculum strategies seem to have evolved: an add-on strategy, an integration strategy or a re-building strategy; the latter involves substantial curriculum re-design. The add-on strategy and integration strategy are the ones most commonly used, whereas the re-building strategy is at an emerging stage in most engineering education communities. Most engineering schools find it very challenging to re-build an entire curriculum, so smaller changes are generally preferred. The purpose of this article is to conceptualise these institutional response strategies in a wider literature and present examples of curriculum change within both employability and sustainability. We will maintain that all these strategies are based on management decisions as well as academic faculty decisions; however the implications for using the various strategies are very different in terms of system change, role of disciplines, leader interventions and faculty development strategies. Furthermore, institutions might use all types of response strategies in different programs and in different semesters. The conceptual framework presented here can provide analytical anchors, hopefully creating more awareness of the complexity of systemic change.