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Professor Roger Hadgraft


Roger Hadgraft is a civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience in improving engineering education. He has published many papers on problem- and project-based learning (PBL), and the use of online technology to support student-centred learning to meet the needs of engineering employers. He was instrumental in introducing a project-based curriculum in civil engineering at Monash University and in several disciplines at RMIT. He established the Master of Sustainable Practice and Bachelor of Sustainable Systems Engineering, both at RMIT. Roger was an ALTC Discipline Scholar and has been a member of several national learning and teaching projects and he has consulted on PBL to universities both nationally and internationally. His current passion is to develop national approaches to engineering curricula.


Recent Keynotes

  • Invited speaker, ICTIEE conference, Hyderabad and Jaipur, Jan 2017
  • Invited keynote, WocTVET, Nov 2016, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
  • Invited keynote, Nov 2016 ICEER conference in Sydney
  • Invited keynote, Dec 2014 AAEE conference in Wellington
  • Invited keynote, Sep 2013 SEFI conference
  • Invited speaker, staff development workshop at Aarhus University, June 2013
  • Invited speaker, Nordic Network for Engineering Education, Gothenburg, May 2013
  • Invited speaker, LATICE conference, Macau, March 2013

Adjunct posiitons

  • Adjunct Professor at CQUniversity, 2016–
  • Honorary Professor at RMIT University, 2014–
  • Adjunct Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark, 2012–.
Image of Roger Hadgraft
Director, Educational Innovation and Research, Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning)
DipCompSc, DipCompSC, BE(Hons), MEngSC, PhD
+61 2 9514 7482

Research Interests

  • graduate outcomes; academic standards
  • project-based learning; problem-based learning
  • development of professional practice skills
Can supervise: Yes
  • engineering practice


Hadgraft, R.G., Volker, R.E. & Stark, K.P. 1982, Investigation of reservoir release rules using dynamic programming and simulation..
A major surface storage on the Burdekin River in North Queensland is to be constructed to supply water to approximately 680 km SUP 2 of mostly sugar cane. Currently an aquifer in the Delta region provides irrigation water for approximately 300 km SUP 2. The paper describes results from a dynamic programming and simulation study to investigate the performance of several operating rules for the surface reservoir. The possible advantages of conjunctive use of the surface and groundwater reservoirs are also examined. (A)
Hadgraft, R.G. & Volker, R.E. 1981, A model for predicting aquifer recharge from rainfall and river flow..
Groundwater management programs frequently require data on the response of the aquifer to its various inputs and outputs. A numerical model has been developed to assist in the assessment of recharge quantities. The model is designed to be capable of representing the processes of rainfall and river recharge, irrigation extraction and leakage to the sea.-from Authors


Alam, F., Hadgraft, R.G. & Alam, Q. 2014, 'eLearning: Challenges and opportunities' in Using Technology Tools to Innovate Assessment, Reporting, and Teaching Practices in Engineering Education, pp. 217-226.
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© 2014, IGI Global. eLearning will revolutionise higher education in the next decade. Although this has likely been said regularly over the last 20 years, the widespread availability of mobile devices, ubiquitous wifi connections, and the globalisation of industry, driven by global networking infrastructure, will finally deliver the promises of learning anytime anywhere. This chapter reviews the most common forms of eLearning, both synchronous and asynchronous: recorded lectures, learning management systems, online assessment, blogs, and wikis are slowly transforming education towards a student-centred model of learning. The question remains: what is the university's business model when students can collect their learning resources for free from iTunesU?
Alam, F., Hadgraft, R.G. & Subic, A. 2014, 'Technology-enhanced laboratory experiments in learning and teaching' in Using Technology Tools to Innovate Assessment, Reporting, and Teaching Practices in Engineering Education, pp. 289-302.
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© 2014, IGI Global. Laboratory practice plays a crucial role in engineering and technology education. The advancement of computational and computer technologies have ushered in a new horizon in learning and teaching of laboratory practices worldwide. Apart from traditional hands-on laboratory practice, two other laboratories, namely the virtual/simulated laboratory and the remote control laboratory practices, are playing an increasingly dominant role. The virtual and remote laboratory practices offer unique opportunities for students to visualise complex concepts and remove the time and location barrier. This chapter provides a comparative analysis of all three laboratory practices. Additionally, a 3-step laboratory practice and a hybrid laboratory practice developed at RMIT University are described. It is evident that the advancement of computational technology enhances the student learning experience in laboratory practices. However, real world hands-on laboratory practices cannot be fully replaced by the virtual/simulated and/or remote control laboratory practices. They are complementary.


Hadgraft, R.G., Lowe, D. & Lawson, J. 2016, 'Enhancing mechanics education through shared assessment design', ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings, Measuring Learning in Statics & Dynamics - Annual Conference and Exposition (ASEE), American Society for Engineering Education, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.
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© American Society for Engineering Education, 2016.There is considerable commonality between engineering undergraduate programs in terms of content, pedagogies, course structures and assessment practices, particularly in terms of engineering fundamentals such as mechanics. Despite this, and the availability of an array of online resources, there seems to be limited commitment to sharing learning resources among teaching academics and between institutions. Further, there seems to be a specific resistance to sharing those materials that support the teaching and learning of technical content1. Collaborations seen in research networks seem not to have equivalent presence in teaching and learning, despite a literature that points to the benefits of sharing curriculum resources 2,3. A few projects funded by the Federal Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) in Australia have made freely available resources as deliverables (A proactive approach to addressing student learning diversity in engineering mechanics 4; Promoting student engagement and continual improvement: Integrating professional quality management practice into engineering curricula5; Remotely accessible laboratories: Enhancing learning outcomes6 and many more 7). There has been varied uptake of these, however, and the long-term maintenance of online resources is problematic. There is also a literature that identifies sustainability challenges with open educational resources including funding and intellectual property rights 3. It could be argued that failure to provide resources and, concomitantly the uptake by teaching academics of such resources impedes student access to these resources and therefore impacts their learning. It also contributes to inefficiencies brought about by work duplication. The reasons for limited uptake of resources are both institutional and individual. However, there are nuances to what is meant by a resource, how resources are modified by academics and where in a program they mi...
Braun, R., Brookes, W., Chaczko, Z. & Hadgraft, R. 2016, 'Position Paper: BE(Hons) Data Engineering', 15th International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training, IEEE, Istanbul, Turkey.
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Paimin, A.N., Alias, M., Hadgraft, R.G. & Prpic, J.K. 2013, 'Factors affecting study performance of engineering undergraduates: Case studies of Malaysia and Australia', Research in Engineering Education Symposium, REES 2013, pp. 180-186.
While student attrition is of concern to engineering educators there is still a lack of understanding of factors that can contribute to students' success in engineering. The main purpose of this research has been to quantitatively examine the relationships between learning strategy, interest, intention and academic performance informed by the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA). Participants were 135 Malaysian and 132 Australian engineering undergraduates who completed the Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) scale and Learner Autonomy Profile (LAP-SF) scale. The correlation coefficient analysis shows strong interrelationships between learning strategy, interest and intention while findings of the structural equation modelling (SEM) analysis revealed unexpected but interesting findings across the two countries. Two different models were established for the Malaysian and Australian data suggesting that intention is influenced by strategy only via the establishment of interest. This is consistent with the theory used. Copyright © 2013 Paimin, Hadgraft, Prpic, Alias.
Grenquist, S. & Hadgraft, R.G. 2013, 'Are Australian and American Engineering Education Programs the Same? The Similarities and Differences between Australian and American Engineering Accreditation Procedures', 2013 ASEE INTERNATIONAL FORUM, ASEE International Forum, AMER SOC ENGINEERING EDUCATION, Atlanta, GA.
Dowling, D.G. & Hadgraft, R.G. 2012, 'What should we teach? Defining Your discipline to drive curriculum renewal: An Environmental engineering case study', Proceedings of the 40th SEFI Annual Conference 2012 - Engineering Education 2020: Meet the Future.
In Australia, the federal government, employers, and accrediting bodies, such as Engineers Australia, are calling for more clearly defined program outcomesor exit standardsfor engineering programs [1-3]. Engineering Schools are therefore under increasing pressure to more clearly define what graduates from four or five year engineering programs should knowand be able to do. This paper describes a simple, but elegant stakeholder process that can be used to define the capabilities of a graduate who could claim in-depth techni-cal competence in their discipline. The Defining Your Discipline (DYD) Process [4] may be used by educational institutions and industry organisations to develop practitioner-authenticated sets of graduate capabilitiesfor their disci-pline. Environmental engineering was the test case for this new process. At the heart of the DYD process is the definition of tasks, in this case the tasks which a graduate from a program should be able to do in their first two or three years after graduation. Stakeholders are given a set of large sticky notes on which they are asked to write, on each note, one task that they would expect a recent graduate to be able to perform in their company. For academics, this is an imaginary task, while for industry representatives, who usually have considerable experience in supervising young graduates, it is more authentic as they know the sorts of tasks that a recent graduate should be able to complete. After about 20-30 minutes, most participants come to a stop. They can't think of any more tasks. Sometimes, it is helpful for them to talk to people around them for more ideas. This might last another 10-15 minutes. So, within 40-50 minutes participants are ready for the next stage, which is to clusterthe tasks into meaningful groups. This takes another 20-30 min-utes. There is usually quite a bit of discussion about the names of the clus-ters, and when negotiating the cluster into which an individual task belongs. The outc...
Dowling, D.G. & Hadgraft, R.G. 2011, 'A systematic consultation process to define graduate outcomes for engineering disciplines', RESEARCH IN ENGINEERING EDUCATION SYMPOSIUM, Research in Engineering Education Symposium, UNIV POLITECNICA MADRID, Univ Politecnica Madrid, Madrid, SPAIN, pp. 552-561.
Prpic, J.K. & Hadgraft, R.G. 2009, 'Building a community of scholars', 2009 Research in Engineering Education Symposium, REES 2009.
This is an outline for a workshop aimed at building and strengthening a global community of researchers in engineering education. © 2009 Authors.
Paimin, A.N., Hadgraft, R.G. & Prpic, J.K. 2009, 'An exploration of the conative domain among engineering students', 2009 Research in Engineering Education Symposium, REES 2009.
Concerns about student retention, demotivation and lack of confidence in engineering courses has been discussed over the past 15 years. This study suggests the need of exploration study on conative domain to prepare students for future challenges in engineering study. One promising line of research is to promote a deeper understanding of the concept of conative domain, to explain the confusion between the idea of conation as motivation and resilience, and to discuss several researches on conation in educational contexts. This paper is part of an ongoing PhD research project that aims to explore conative domain among engineering students. It reviews existing literature in this topic and presents preliminary findings from surveys and interviews. The results from surveys showed students were less confident of their own technical skills and have a lower level of self-esteem compared to employers' perception. Results from lecturers' interviews showed students' attitudes and interest were the major obstacle that affects their willingness in exploring engineering skills.
Hadgraft, R.G. 2008, 'Computer-aided learning and assessment is needed to aid project-based learning', Proceedings of 36th European Society for Engineering Education, SEFI Conference on Quality Assessment, Employability and Innovation.
There are significant pressures on higher education: reducing funding per student in real terms, an exponential growth in the knowledge base and growth in complexity and interconnectedness of the problems that engineers face as the Earth's climate and society changes. Students need more project work to allow them to develop real engineering expertise to tackle these complex problems (as opposed to acquiring just basic engineering knowledge and skills). Project-based learning is aided by ready access to good online materials that can help students acquire basic skills and that will allow them to test their basic competency. It is time to make these learning resources more readily available across the sector (both nationally and internationally). Although there are vast collections of tutorials and other learning objects, they are not yet well organised and it is difficult to see where the gaps are. For example, is there a site that would allow someone to study any topic in civil engineering in an organised way? As well, we should develop good online assessment so that students can test their skills at any time, without waiting for end of semester exams. This paper is a call to action for the international discipline communities to organise the existing online resources and to develop additional resources and online assessment.
Hadgraft, R.G., Carew, A.L., Therese, S.A. & Blundell, D.L. 2008, 'Teaching and assessing systems thinking in engineering', Research in Engineering Education Symposium 2008, pp. 230-235.
Hadgraft, R.G. & Goricanec, J.L. 2007, 'Student engagement in project-based learning', Proceedings of the Inaugural International Conference on Research in Engineering Education, ICREE.
In 2003-4, The School of Civil and Chemical Engineering at RMIT University made a strong commitment to project-based learning through the redesign of its major programs: civil and infrastructure engineering, chemical engineering and environmental engineering. A project-based course became one quarter of each semester of each of the three programs, as a means of developing the required graduate capabilities. An important aim of such project-based learning is to bring real engineering problems into the classroom, to engage students in understanding the nature of engineering problems, and also to provide incentive in the acquisition of the seemingly difficult technical skills in other courses. The authors' experiences over many years indicate that such projects work for many, but not all, students. Some students fail to engage in the project work, for various reasons. This project set out to understand the reasons for engagement and non-engagement among first year civil and environmental engineering students. Students want interesting work, and an own-choice project seems to provide this. Being interested was the factor most strongly correlated with both course and program engagement. Student groups also need careful management by tutors so that they properly understand what is required of them (and don't get stressed and waste time in non-productive work). The groupwork component of these projects helps to connect students with other students, which they list as an important motivator for them as they move through first year. Finally, first year students need careful guidance and orientation to their new university environment so that they can develop appropriate study habits as well as appropriate communication and research skills to match what is expected of them. © 2007 ASEE.
Hadgraft, R.G. & Grundy, P. 1998, 'A new degree in civil engineering', 1ST UICEE ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON ENGINEERING EDUCATION UNDER THE THEME: GLOBALISATION OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION, CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS, 1st UICEE Annual Conference on Engineering Education on Globalisation of Engineering Education, UICEE, FACULTY ENGINEERING, MONASH UNIV, CLAYTON, AUSTRALIA, pp. 78-82.
Wigan, M.R. & Hadgraft, R.G. 1997, 'Learning styles and hypermedia supported learning', 1ST ASIA-PACIFIC FORUM ON ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION, FORUM PROCEEDINGS, 1st Asia-Pacific Forum on Engineering and Technology Education, USICEE, CLAYTON, AUSTRALIA, pp. 241-245.
Hadgraft, R.G. & Daniell, T.M. 1994, 'Obtaining the art of hydrological modelling using problem based learning', National Conference Publication - Institution of Engineers, Australia, pp. 645-650.
The development, the positive aspects, the negative aspects and the useability of particular hydrologic models have been discussed extensively at recent conferences. In discussing hydrological modelling, and areas that need to be addressed, it becomes increasingly obvious that the real problem is not so much inadequate models, as inadequate users. Training and education of the users are increasingly important, and this paper attempts to describe an approach that rather than teaching models, encourages the art and skills of modelling. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a way of reversing the present trend of pushing more direct content into the courses; one aspect is to teach a process such as modelling, as well as a selection of models. Models will come and go, but modelling is a skill that will continue. In Problem Based Learning, a problem is presented in its context as much as possible. Several concepts may be incorporated into a single problem. With the choice of problem based learning, the student modeller is confronted immediately with the big issues, rather than hydrological processes. The connection of the problems and the topics is shown in this paper via a concept map, indicating appropriate interrelationships. Monash University has already moved its hydrology course at third year somewhat along the lines of PBL. Environmental Engineering programs, which encompass much of the hydrology courses within their frameworks, are shown to be particularly appropriate for this method of learning.
Graham, L.B. & Hadgraft, R.G. 1984, 'FARM DAM CHANNEL BYWASHES.', National Conference Publication - Institution of Engineers, Australia, pp. 348-352.
Channel bywashes are side discharge channel spillways, which provide an alternative to conventional farm dam bywashes on steep sites, or where hydraulic problems of very wide bywash outlet widths occur. They do not, however, offer a means of significantly reducing the width of return slope required for a particular project. Analysis of channel bywash flow requires an iterative step solution, using either a computer or powerful programmable calculator. The engineer must judge whether a conventional bywash or channel bywash is appropriate in a particular circumstance.
Hadgraft, R.G. 1983, 'PORTABLE USER INTERFACE FOR FORTRAN PROGRAMS.', National Conference Publication - Institution of Engineers, Australia, pp. 151-155.
Hadgraft, R.G., Volker, R.E. & Stark, K.P. 1981, 'OPTIMAL CONJUNCTIVE OPERATION OF A SURFACE RESERVOIR AND AN AQUIFER.', Proceedings, Congress - International Association For Hydraulic Research, pp. 183-191.

Journal articles

Kolmos, A., Hadgraft, R.G. & Holgaard, J.E. 2016, 'Response strategies for curriculum change in engineering', International Journal of Technology and Design Education.
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© 2015 The Author(s) During the last 25 years, there have been many calls for new engineering competencies and a corresponding gradual change in both curriculum and pedagogy in engineering education. This has been a global trend, in the US, Europe, Australia and now emerging in the rest of the world. Basically, there have been two main types of societal challenges that many engineering institutions have responded to: the employability skills of graduates and the need for a sustainability approach to engineering. These are two very different challenges and societal needs; however, the ways engineering institutions have responded form a consistent pattern across many of the content aspects. No matter the specific character of change, three very different curriculum strategies seem to have evolved: an add-on strategy, an integration strategy or a re-building strategy; the latter involves substantial curriculum re-design. The add-on strategy and integration strategy are the ones most commonly used, whereas the re-building strategy is at an emerging stage in most engineering education communities. Most engineering schools find it very challenging to re-build an entire curriculum, so smaller changes are generally preferred. The purpose of this article is to conceptualise these institutional response strategies in a wider literature and present examples of curriculum change within both employability and sustainability. We will maintain that all these strategies are based on management decisions as well as academic faculty decisions; however the implications for using the various strategies are very different in terms of system change, role of disciplines, leader interventions and faculty development strategies. Furthermore, institutions might use all types of response strategies in different programs and in different semesters. The conceptual framework presented here can provide analytical anchors, hopefully creating more awareness of the complexity of systemic change.
Knight, D.B., Cameron, I.T., Hadgraft, R.G. & Reidsema, C. 2016, 'The influence of external forces, institutional forces, and academics' characteristics on the adoption of positive teaching practices across australian undergraduate engineering', International Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 695-711.
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© 2016 TEMPUS Publications. This study investigates how academics' personal beliefs, perspectives on institutional forces, and perspectives on external influences relate to their teaching and learning decision-making. Using a national-level survey of Australian engineering academics (n = 591; 16% of Australia's engineering academics), analyses investigate (1) how influences external and internal to the university environment vary across characteristics of academics, and (2) how academics' characteristics, organizational features, and external drivers relate to issues informing academics' teaching and their actual teaching practices. External and internal influences differed across academics based on their individual characteristics and university contexts, and academics' individual characteristics explained the greatest variability in their teaching considerations and practices. For external influences (e.g., accreditation), promoting awareness of educational goals for undergraduate engineering-as opposed to forcing outcomes into course planning-relates to more desirable teaching and learning practices. No internal institutional policy driver related to teaching practice variables. This study points to informed, professional development that seeks to capitalize on academics' personal interests and characteristics and assists in helping them understand how curricula and outcomes may better align to help student learning. Findings support working from a bottom-up model of change to improve the teaching and learning culture within engineering programs.
Paimin, A.N., Hadgraft, R.G., Prpic, J.K. & Alias, M. 2016, 'An application of the theory of reasoned action: Assessing success factors of engineering students', International Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 32, no. 6, pp. 2426-2433.
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© 2016 TEMPUS Publications. Student attrition in engineering is of concern. This study investigated motivational factors necessary to succeed in engineering. The Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) model was used to guide the suggested paths from learning strategy, interest, and intention to academic performance. Participants were 135 Malaysian and 132 Australian engineering undergraduates who had completed the Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) scale and the Learner Autonomy Profile (LAP-SF) scale. The correlation coefficient analysis showed strong interrelationships between learning strategy, interest and intention. The findings of the structural equation modelling (SEM) revealed unexpected but interesting findings between the two countries. Two different pathways were established for the Malaysian and Australian data suggesting that the TRA model is best suited to the Australian learning context. The findings of this study could help identify a suitable model for explaining success factors in engineering.
Lawson, J., Rasul, M.G., Howard, P., Martin, F., Hadgraft, R.G. & Jarman, R. 2015, 'Getting it Right: The Case for Supervisors Assessing Process in Capstone Projects', International Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 31, no. 6B, pp. 1810-1818.
Capstone projects represent the culmination of an undergraduate engineering degree and are typically the last checkpoint measure before students graduate and enter the engineering profession. In Australia there is a longstanding interest in and commitment to developing quality capstone experiences. A national study into the supervision and assessment of capstone projects has determined that whilst there is relative consistency in terms of what project tasks are set and assessed, there is not comparable consistency in how these tasks or assignments are marked. Two interconnected areas of assessing process and the role of the supervisor in marking are identified as contentious. This paper presents some findings of a national case study and concludes that whilst further investigation is warranted, assessing process as well as project products is valuable as is the need for greater acceptance of project supervisors as capable of making informed, professional judgments when marking significant project work.
Reidsema, C., Hadgraft, R.G., Cameron, I. & King, R. 2013, 'Change strategies for educational transformation', Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 101-108.
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The authors present a position paper suggesting that while there is evidence for change within engineering curricula towards best practice, there are significant barriers primarily at the operational level, which bring into question the likelihood of more widespread adoption of hard won gains. It is argued that transformational change is required which (i) alters the culture of the institution by changing select underlying assumptions and institutional behaviours, processes, and products; (ii) is deep and pervasive, affecting the whole institution; (iii) is intentional; and (iv) occurs over time (Kezar & Eckel, 2002). It is also argued that change leadership of this nature must be distributed, not solely laid at the feet of Deans and Vice Chancellors. A strategy for change is presented based on observations and evidence from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) project "Design based curriculum reform within engineering education" and the recently completed ALTC Discipline Scholars' Survey of Engineering Academics grounded in the research for transformational change within businesses, universities and teaching and learning. This model for change proposes the development of a network of change agents built on a brokerage model to improve best practice and leadership capacity through systematically and directly engaging with the strategic/tactical and operational levels of engineering faculties
Felder, R.M. & Hadgraft, R.G. 2013, 'Educational practice and educational research in engineering: Partners, antagonists, or ships passing in the night?', Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 102, no. 3, pp. 339-345.
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Litzinger, T.A., Lattuca, L.R., Hadgraft, R.G., Newstetter, W.C., Alley, M., Atman, C., DiBiasio, D., Finelli, C., Diefes-Dux, H., Kolmos, A., Riley, D., Sheppard, S., Weimer, M. & Yasuhara, K. 2011, 'Engineering education and the development of expertise', Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 100, no. 1, pp. 123-150.
BACKGROUND: Although engineering education has evolved in ways that improve the readiness of graduates to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, national and int ernational organizations continue to call for change. Future changes in engineering education should be guided by research on expertise and the learning processes that support its development. PURPOSE: The goals of this paper are: to relate key findings from studies of the development of expertise to engineering education, to summarize instructional practices that are consistent with these findings, to provide examples of learning experiences that are consistent with these instructional practices, and finally, to identify challenges to implementing such learning experiences in engineering programs. SCOPE/METHOD: The research synthesized for this article includes that on the development of expertise, students' approaches to learning, students' responses to instructional practices, and the role of motivation in learning. In addition, literature on the dominant teaching and learning practices in engineering education is used to frame some of the challenges to implementing alternative approaches to learning. CONCLUSION: Current understanding of expertise, and the learning processes that develop it, indicates that engineering education should encompass a set of learning experiences that allow students to construct deep conceptual knowledge, to develop the ability to apply key technical and professional skills fluently, and to engage in a number of authentic engineering projects. Engineering curricula and teaching methods are often not well aligned with these goals. Curriculum-level instructional design processes should be used to design and implement changes that will improve alignment. © 2011 ASEE.
Hadgraft, R.G. 1998, 'Problem-based learning: A vital step towards a new work environment', International Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 14-23.
As educators, we dream of highly motivated students who devour our courses with relish, and who are then able to competently apply what they have learned. Similarly, employers wish for highly motivated employees who will give 100% effort to their work. These are very similar requirements. In Australia, the Federal Government has offered $80M for each of the last three years, to encourage universities to develop quality assurance procedures. Although some good has come of this (e.g. an Education Policy at the author's university), little has really changed in the classroom. We still have not tackled motivation, probably the number one factor in student performance. This paper considers some of the literature on quality management, particularly of quality management, management of software teams and building creative organisations. It shows that problem-based learning (PBL) is a first step towards creating a new culture in university departments based on trust and respect for student contributions. It suggests that our departments will be the better for such a change, but that such a change will not be trivial.
Hadgraft, R.G. 1992, 'Experiences of Two Problem–oriented Courses in Civil Engineering', European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 345-353.
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Current engineering courses are not structured to develop real problem-solving skills in their students. They rely on a bottom-up approach to learning, where the first three years is spend mostly on theory, with almost no practice at problem definition. Instead, the students spend most of their time solving carefully designed exercises. Real-world problems are not as neatly packaged as these exercises, and, as a consequence, graduate engineers often lack the problem-definition and problem-recognition skills that are essential if the theory they have learned is to be useful to them. On the contrary, a problem-oriented course requires the students to develop those problem recognition skills. It also is intended to develop student-directed learning, and group and communication skills. A problem-oriented approach was used in 1991 in two second-year courses in civil engineering—surveying and computing. The courses were well received by the students, and the average exam result for surveying showed a noticeable improvement, while the average exam result for computing showed a marginal improvement. (There were, however, other encouraging signs in the computing course. The author believes that the difference in response between the two subjects is due to the difference between working in groups and working individually, and a course change for the computing subject for 1992 is proposed. © 1992, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.