Building an Evaluation Strategy for an Integrated Curriculum in Chemical Engineering

ABSTRACT

Increasing knowledge integration has gained widespread support as an important goal in engineering education. The Chemical Engineering Pillars curriculum at the University of Pittsburgh, unique for its use of block scheduling, is one of the first four-year, integrated curricula in engineering, and is specifically designed to facilitate knowledge integration. As this curriculum is one of the first of its kind, conventional assessment strategies are not necessarily well suited for evaluation. In fact, our assessment strategy – by necessity – includes two separate measurement goals. First, we focus on measuring the effectiveness of the new curricular structure for enhancing the ability of students to engage in systems thinking (knowledge integration). At the same time, we specifically assess the impact of this type of curriculum on students’ performance in conceptualizing (chemical) engineering principles. The goal of this paper is to outline an overall assessment structure suitable for measuring the efficacy of multi-year integrated curricula. Specifically, we describe the currently available assessment vehicles under use as well as discuss the methods – and results – for building the additional assessment materials required for a thorough vetting of this type of (chemical engineering) curriculum. While our specific assessment is still ongoing, we include a portion of the results to date and discuss their implications for the portability of integrated curricula in chemical engineering.

 

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Joseph J. McCarthy Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261

Joseph J. McCarthy
Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261

Robert S. Parker Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261

Robert S. Parker
Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261

Adetola Abatan Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261

Adetola Abatan
Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261

Mary Besterfield-Sacre Department of Industrial Engineering University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261

Mary Besterfield-Sacre
Department of Industrial Engineering
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261

 

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