Chapter: Chapter 2

2.8 Other things you should read


A first port of call for ideas, definitions and resources should be the web site of the Higher Education Academy [] The HEA used to include Subject Centres but in a senseless act of academic vandalism it ceased funding them in about 2010. The two most relevant Subject Centres were Engineering ( and Materials ( and … Continued »



UNESCO The UNESCO  Task Force on Education for the Twenty-first Century concluded in its reports in 1996 and 1998 that ‘education throughout life is based upon four pillars: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be.’ This analysis has been reiterated by such writers as Sir Graham Hills in … Continued »

2.6 Background influences


Many professional and governmental bodies take an interest in the education of engineers. Accrediting bodies such as the Engineering Council in the UK (via UK-SPEC), ABET in the US, and AMS in Australia appear to wield considerable influence over teaching (if not learning) in universities which offer engineering programmes. In this book I will not … Continued »

2.5 Learning Outcomes


Learning outcomes (LOs) are the statements of the knowledge, understanding and competencies which our engineering programmes are designed to develop in our students. Most universities now demand that every module, programme or course has pre-defined learning outcomes, couched in phrases such as ‘at the end of this module the student will be able to …’. [They really should … Continued »

2.4 Constructionism, understanding, thresholds and Vygotsky


Engineering education is often described as being constructionist (or constructivist) implying that learning involves constructing understanding from a number of smaller components. This construction can only be done by the learner, not by the teacher. ‘I cannot learn for you, and you cannot learn for me’. The constructivist approach is implicit in Biggs’ constructive alignment principle (see … Continued »

2.3 Bloom’s taxonomy


There is a commonly used series of levels of learning, called Bloom’s taxonomy [Bloom, 1956]. It is most frequently presented in terms of six levels of understanding, starting with pure recall of facts from memory and culminating with a sufficiently deep understanding to be able to analyse, synthesize and predict. The levels are often described … Continued »

2.2 Some models


Some potential models are, for example; We should make sure that we assess or examine what we want the students to know or be able to do, and then we should ensure that our teaching helps them to achieve this knowledge or develop the appropriate skill. This is known as constructive alignment; and was championed by John … Continued »

2.1 Educational background


To generalise grotesquely, engineers – although well accustomed to open problems with multiple potential solutions – like their experiments and theories to be based on quantitative analysis and hard numbers. Unfortunately this is rarely possible in education, where outcomes are hard to measure numerically or repeatably, and where control groups are difficult to come by. Nevertheless a … Continued »

Intro: Chapter 2


Some educational background What you might take away from this chapter: The realisation that other academics have been thinking about how to educate engineers, and what is important for the graduate, for many years. We can learn a lot from work published in English in the UK, the USA and Australia and even from a … Continued »