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Balancing Curriculum Processes and Content in a Project Centred Curriculum:In Pursuit of Graduate Attributes

Education for Chemical Engineers
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1205/ece.05002
  • Graduate Attributes
  • Generic Skills
  • Project Centred Learning
  • Engineering Education
  • Communication
  • Design
  • Education
  • Engineering


Chemical engineering education is challenged around the world by demands and rapid changes encompassing a wide range of technical and social drivers. Graduates must be prepared for practice in increasingly diverse workplace environments in which generic or transferable attributes such as communication and teamwork together with technical excellence are mandated by prospective employers and society at large. If academe is to successfully deliver on these graduate attributes, effective curriculum design needs to include appropriate educational processes as well as course content. Conventional teacher centred approaches, stand-alone courses and retro-fitted remedial modules have not delivered the desired outcomes. Development of the broader spectrum of attributes is more likely when students are engaged with realistic and relevant experiences that demand the integration and practice of these attributes in contexts that the students find meaningful. This paper describes and evaluates The University of Queensland's Project Centred Curriculum in Chemical Engineering (PCC), a programme-wide approach to meeting these requirements. PCC strategically integrates project-based learning with more traditional instruction. Data collected shows improved levels of student attainment of generic skills with institutional and nationally benchmarked indicators showing significant increases in student perceptions of teaching quality, and overall satisfaction with the undergraduate experience. Endorsements from Australian academic, professional and industry bodies also support the approach as more effectively aligning engineering education with professional practice requirements.

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