Engineering Education: Skill Levels and Outcome-based Approach
The profession of engineering is witnessing a continuous, and a very fast-paced change. There is a flood of new products, new technologies, and innovative new ideas. Engineering education has to keep pace with these rapid changes, or lose its effectiveness. There are various acute challenges facing instructors of engineering courses: how to design an optimal coverage of the fundamental topics and the emerging technologies; how to keep on attracting top students towards engineering; how to make sure that the graduates are well-prepared for engineering in the twenty-first century. The problem is compounded by recurrent cases of lack of interest and response in the class, low grades, poor attendance, and withdrawals. Conventional style of black-board-centered and lecture-based teaching may not be enough. There is a paradigm shift from objective-based to outcome-oriented education. And there is increased stress on addressing higher levels of cognitive skills. Also, the contemporary instructor is not there just to impart information, but to facilitate student learning. The current paper discusses levels of required intellectual skills and student outcomes in engineering education, in the context of new teaching and learning paradigms such as active (activity-based) learning, cooperative learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning, and inquiry-based learning. Based on the author’s own experience of teaching undergraduate-level Applied Mechanics and Design, and Materials and Manufacturing courses, some relevant examples are also given for each pedagogical style.
Keywords - Engineering Education, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Student Outcomes, Pedagogical Styles