283516 Integrating the Chemical Engineering Curriculum Into a Common Academic Program At the University of Dayton

Tuesday, October 30, 2012: 4:50 PM
330 (Convention Center )
Michael J. Elsass1, Donald Comfort1, Amy R. Ciric1, Elizabeth Hart2 and Robert J. Wilkens3, (1)Dept. of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH, (2)School of Engineering, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH, (3)Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH

Beginning with the incoming class of 2013, the University of Dayton will be implementing the Common Academic Program (CAP) to replace the current general education curriculum.  CAP is designed to be integrated into all major curricula as well as co-curricular activities.  The CAP is organized around the learning structure described in a 2006 report issued by the Marianist Education Working Group titled The Habits of Inquiry and Reflection.  Seven learning outcomes lie at the core of the CAP:  scholarship, faith traditions, diversity, community, practical wisdom, critical evaluation of our times, and vocation.  In addition to these outcomes, CAP implementation is guided by a specific set of characteristics.  CAP sequences courses over the entirety of a student’s academic career to continually build upon the knowledge of each learning outcome as well as provide multiple opportunities to demonstrate this knowledge.  This knowledge will be applied in the classroom through learning centered tasks.  Additionally, the CAP will include professional and vocational learning opportunities by providing skills such as communication, decision making, ethics and critical thinking.  Lastly, student learning will be assessed to guide continual course improvements.

In theory, the CAP curriculum is credit-neutral in that current programs will not be required to eliminate classes to accommodate the new general education curriculum.  However due to class sequencing, it would be impossible to maintain the existing chemical engineering curriculum although it would be a simple task to rearrange classes to effectively recreate the same curriculum.  Therefore, it was decided to fully re-examine the chemical engineering curriculum to better integrate with CAP.

The school of engineering’s goal is to use the CAP as an opportunity to provide a more integrated and holistic education.  Central to this is the idea of crossing boundaries classes.  In the context of the chemical engineering curriculum, these crossing boundaries classes can be structured to allow for students outside of the school of engineering to gain exposure to the field of engineering.  Since students begin chemical engineering classes during the sophomore year, the intention is to offer CAP based sophomore engineering classes that are structured in a way that helps to attract and retain a more diverse student body.  More advanced CAP crossing boundaries classes will provide an opportunity to create and/or grow emerging high interest concentrations such as Renewable and Clean Energy and Bioengineering.

Work on CAP integration begun in January of 2012 and the curriculum reexamination and CAP integration tasks have been progressing in parallel.  Following a review of the CAP program, the proposed implementation, and the potential impact on the chemical engineering curriculum, a top-down approach to both the chemical engineering curriculum review and CAP integration was started.  The feasibility of merging a chemical engineering capstone experience with that of a CAP capstone experience was discussed and will be revisited once the chemical engineering curricula begins to take shape however, an initial possibility for the merger is a multidisciplinary design project.  Next, a preliminary study on what learning outcomes can be directly implemented into the chemical engineering curriculum and which are better left to the general education portion of the curriculum was performed by comparing the CAP learning outcomes with those of ABET.  For instance, the CAP learning outcome of scholarship is directly related to the following ABET learning outcomes: an ability to apply knowledge of math, science and engineering, an ability to conduct experiments, analyze and interpret data, an ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems.  Some CAP outcomes, such as faith traditions, have no ABET or engineering counterpart and will be satisfied with general education classes.  Overall, it was found that the CAP learning outcomes of Scholarship, Practical Wisdom and Community overlap with several ABET learning outcomes, the CAP outcomes of Critical Evaluation of our Times and Vocation each overlap with a single ABET outcome and the CAP outcomes of Faith Traditions and Diversity have no ABET overlap.

Once the university finalizes details related to CAP, such as credit requirements for each learning outcome, the specifics of the CAP integration into the chemical engineering curriculum can proceed.  This work will center on which engineering courses and topics are needed to satisfy the CAP requirements.  Of these classes and topics, it needs to be determined which can be offered by the chemical engineering department, which can be offered by the school of engineering, and which will be offered by other departments as part of the general education requirements.  A key aspect is to create a progression of CAP topics and classes through all four years of a student’s academic career.  Work is ongoing, and the new curriculum must be submitted for review by the beginning of the Fall semester of 2012.  Consequently, all ensuing work will be finalized by the time of this presentation.

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See more of this Session: The Evolution of the ChE Curriculum: Towards Graduation
See more of this Group/Topical: Education Division