ECM Faculty Focus
- Page 1
All staff and students are invited to attend a presentation by Winthrop Professor Caroline Baillie, Chair of Engineering Education 'Engineering for the Future'.
The details of the presentation are as follows:
Topic: Engineering for the Future
Date: Friday 28th August 2009
Time: 1pm - 1.45pm
Venue: Engineering Lecture Theatre 1, G.06, Civil-Mechanical Building
Engineering Education is evolving from an adhoc group of practicing lecturers who make changes to and discuss their teaching, and becoming a community of academics involved in scholarship and research, which systematically informs teaching practices.
I hope to use my position here at UWA to build capacity in this area of scholarship and practice. In this talk and follow-up workshop, I will review current thinking related to Engineering Education and explore how we might frame these ideas and approaches to improve the education of our future engineers.
Drawing on movements in Engineering Education and Education theory as well as Education development, I will focus specifically on the research area known as threshold concepts as a potential tool for curriculum development and further exploratory research.
The idea of threshold concepts emerged from a UK national research project on the possible characteristics of strong teaching and learning environments in different disciplines of undergraduate education including engineering.
It became clear to scholars Meyer and Land that certain areas of curricula or concepts acted like gateways - which some students passed through and others did not - that were central to the mastery of their subject. They described these concepts as thresholds, ‘akin to a portal, opening up new and previously inaccessible ways of thinking about something'.
A third member of the team, Cousins, suggests that ‘If we want to develop an understanding of the pedagogy of the subject we teach, we have to start somewhere and making sense of what seems central and often difficult to grasp by most learners, is a good place to begin our inquiry'.
A focus on threshold concepts enables teachers to make refined decisions about what is fundamental to a grasp of the subject they are teaching. A useful approach to curriculum development is to identify these threshold concepts within the discipline and embed them into the course structure, taking a ‘less is more' approach to curriculum design'.
Locating these threshold areas in engineering is new, under-explored territory, and once we have ascertained which concepts are threshold within different areas of the curriculum, alongside facilitating curriculum review, this is immediately publishable material. UWA has the opportunity to develop a strength in the study of threshold concepts within engineering, and engineering professors all over the world would then benefit from our discovery of these elusive yet critical beasts.
About the speaker:
Caroline has recently been recruited as Chair of Engineering Education for the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics. Before coming to Perth, Caroline was Chair of Engineering Education Research and Development at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, where she was also cross appointed into Chemical Engineering, Sociology and Women's studies.
Formerly she was lecturer at Imperial College, UK and the University of Sydney, as well as Deputy Director of the Materials Subject centre, part of the Learning and Teaching support network in the UK.
Caroline's role is to enhance the learning experience of engineering students across the Faculty, to support the staff in their teaching, the students in their learning and to facilitate a more scholarly approach to engineering education. She draws on all areas of Higher Education research, Education Development, Science Education and Critical Pedagogy to support her research and development work.
Caroline has worked for many years on the development of creative and critical thinking in engineering students. She also draws from the recent work on threshold concepts and transformative learning theory.
Engineering and social justice
Caroline is particularly interested in ways in which science and engineering can help to create solutions for the environment as well as social problems. She founded the global ‘Engineering and Social Justice' network and applies this lens to her own technical work on low cost natural fibre composites for developing countries.
Her not-for-profit organisation ‘Waste for Life' works to create poverty-reducing solutions to environmental issues. Caroline is currently helping cooperatives in Argentina and Lesotho to develop products from the waste plastic and other materials that they scavenge to scrape a living. She is also theorising and critiquing engineering practice through a social justice lens and facilitating students to pass through this ‘threshold'.
Caroline has more than 160 publications in Materials Engineering and Engineering Education including 7 authored and 11 edited books in Engineering and Engineering Education including practice and development, teaching and supervision, science and engineering knowledge development, education and social justice
Magdalena Matuszczyk / [email protected] / 6488 4277
- Page 1