A curriculum review can be an intricate and arduous process, made more complex due to a myriad of interwoven threads that inform the curriculum. This is often the case in chemical engineering due in part to the accommodation of employer expectations, requirements from accreditation bodies and the multidisciplinary, integrative nature of an engineering degree which depends on students acquiring a wide range of attributes, and which focuses on application and relevancy (Felder et al. 2000; Gomes et al. 2006). In this paper, we present our efforts to review the chemical engineering curricula at a research-intensive HEI in the UK. This review is being orchestrated by institutional managers to ensure that programmes of study throughout the HEI better reflect student needs and expectations and adhere to a recently revised institutional teaching and learning strategy. This review is also driven by a recognition that the student body has changed with traditional modes of teaching seemingly outdated and ineffective. Instead, students are digital natives who like problem-solving, being able to appreciate the relevancy of what they are being taught and expect their teachers to be approachable (e.g. Sproken-Smith et al. 2015).
The approach taken to this review is principally a case study (Stake 2010) which is polygonal in nature - involving staff, students, former graduates and employers. Even though we acknowledge that students are one of many drivers of curriculum change, their voice is an increasingly powerful one (Cuthbert 2010). In this paper, we present evidence of the student voice, which will inform curriculum review via questionnaires and interviews. Questionnaires have been prepared and administered to students to solicit responses on the following five topics of interest: technology enhanced learning, interactive pedagogies, assessment practices, mechanisms used to provide pastoral support and the development of skills and capabilities. These five topics had been identified as relevant in earlier focus groups with students. Interviews are currently being organised (targeting a total of 10-12 students from different year groups) that explore students’ learning experiences within their context which we will also report on in the course of this presentation. Our findings will highlight areas of focus for our ongoing curriculum review and provide valuable insights into the student experience.
Cuthbert, R. (2010), Students as customers, Higher Education Review, 42(3): 3-25
Felder, R.M., Woods, D.R., Stice J.E. and Rugarcia, A. (2000), The future of engineering education, Chemical Engineering Education, 34(1): 26-39
Gomes V.G., Barton G.W., Petrie J.G., Romagnoli J., Holt P., Abbas A., Cohen B., Harris A.T., Haynes, B.S., Langrish, T.A.G., Orellana J., See H.T., Valix M. and White D. (2006), Chemical engineering curriculum renewal, Education for Chemical Engineers, 1:116-125
Sproken-Smith R., Buissink-Smith N., Bond C. and Grigg G. (2015), Graduates’ orientations to higher education and their respective experiences of teaching and learning, Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 3(2): 55-70
Stake, R.E. (1995), The Art of Case Study Research, Sage: Thousand Islands, London and New Delhi
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