Conference Paper

Work in progress - Spiral curriculum approach to reformulate engineering curriculum

Dept. of Eng. Educ., Virginia Polytech. Inst. & State Univ., Blacksburg, VA
DOI: 10.1109/FIE.2005.1612007 Conference: Frontiers in Education, 2005. FIE '05. Proceedings 35th Annual Conference
Source: IEEE Xplore


A theme-based spiral curriculum approach is being adopted to initiate the department-level reform (DLR) of the freshman engineering and the bioprocess engineering curricula at Virginia Tech. A large number of engineering faculty members are collaborating with experts in educational psychology and academic assessment to accomplish the objectives of this 3-year NSF supported project that began in September 2004. Successful implementation of the spiral approach will be used as a model for incorporating similar reforms in other engineering departments and elsewhere

Download full-text


Available from: Saied Mostaghimi,
1 Follower
83 Reads
  • Source
    • "The spiral curriculum, originally proposed by Bruner in 1960 [1] is based on the idea that teaching a subject can start with an intuitive account -well within the reach of a student followed by later treatment of the subject at progressively more and more advanced levels. The spiral curriculum is reportedly used and evaluated in medical education [4] , computer networks [5] , engineering [2] [3] and hereunder electrical and computer engineering [6] and chemical engineering [7] . "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This contribution describes and evaluates an experimental combination of a spiral and discipline-oriented curriculum implemented in the bachelor's and master's program in Medicine and Technology. The implementation in the master's program is in the form of a study line in Medical Imaging and Radiation Physics containing three disciplines: Imaging modalities, Radiation therapy and Image processing. The two imaging courses in the bachelor's program and the first imaging course in the master's program follow a spiral curriculum in which most disciplines are encountered in all courses, but in a gradually more advanced manner. The remaining courses in the master's program follow a discipline-oriented curriculum. From a practical point of view, the spiral course portfolio works well in an undergraduate environment, where the courses involved are to be taken by all students and in the order planned. However, in the master's program, such a tight schedule is impractical since students are likely to seek specialization. From a pedagogical point of view, the spiral curriculum is advantageous to use in the initial semesters where the teaching can be conducted so that the students can build on their intuitive understanding of the subject. The program was evaluated in terms of the progression in scientific demands in exam from course to course and in terms of the pattern of course selection by the students. The analysis was based on 96 students. The pattern of course selection was found to follow the intentions of the program, thus demonstrating high fulfillment of the learning outcomes.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A workshop module was created to introduce freshman engineering students to sustainable energy scenarios by means of concepts of systems. The module was also designed to represent spiraling of key con cepts the students were introduced to, prior to the works hop activity. Berkeley-Madonna, a dynamical simulation software, was utilized to simulate and compare two future scenarios of power production met by coal an d bio-diesel, respectively. Student understanding of the scenarios was evaluated by subjecting the students to five pre- and post-test survey questions set up on a 5-p oint Likert scale. Statiscal repeated-measures analysis was performed on a much smaller set of data than expected due to insufficient post-test responses. Analysis o f the pre- and post-test data indicated a significant dif ference and improvement in response to only one of the five questions posed, which assessed the individual stud ent's apriori knowledge on "carbon sequestering" and "carbon neutral policy"
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: An engineering ethics assignment through student skits was piloted in the spring 2006 with 180 freshman students enrolled in an introductory engineering course at Virginia Tech. Students, assigned into groups of 4-8, were given one of five ethics case studies documenting realistic engineering scenarios, a set of guidelines, a performance assessment rubric, and instructed to prepare a 5-10 minute skit integrating the essential elements of the given case study. The student groups were given two weeks to organize, prepare, and practice before performing their skit for the class. Students were required to complete a hand-out, provided during the skit session, identifying which of twelve Rules of Practice as part of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) ethical codes had been violated and provide a brief response to a set of open-ended ethical questions. Results of the student hand-out, student surveys and focus group interviews are discussed
    Frontiers in Education Conference, 36th Annual; 12/2006
Show more