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The faculty-driven review to meet the undergraduate students’ rising enrollment used a seven-part framework: form a review team, gather data, evaluate course learning outcomes, create curriculum outcomes, create a curriculum map and evaluate curriculum continuity, which then informs the department’s strategic plan. | Image: Getty Images
While departments at universities and colleges continuously strive to improve their curriculum, complete redesigns are rare. However, a foundational education based on accurate and up-to-date knowledge is paramount, especially for student engineers who will go on to work in a rapidly advancing field.
Members of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University recently reviewed and redesigned its engineering curriculum to address its growing undergraduate program and ongoing industry needs.
Dr. Charles Patrick, a professor of practice in biomedical engineering, served as the lead faculty member in the curriculum review.
“Numerous universities and programs are faced with grappling with how to incorporate education technologies, changes in student mindsets, advances in education pedagogy, and employers’ needs in redesigning curricula as a function of continuous improvement,” said Patrick. “However, a robust framework for curriculum review does not exist.”
“The National Academy of Engineering recently stated that ‘engineering education must continuously adapt both to advances in science and technology fields and to the changing needs of industry, society, and workers themselves. Adaptation of engineering education requires robust curriculum review,’” he said.
The department used a new faculty-driven, data-informed framework known as the Curriculum Continuity Checkup Process to conduct its review.
The research detailing the Continuity Checkup Process framework is published in the Biomedical Engineering Education journal.
The review team used the Continuity Checkup Process framework to evaluate the current undergraduate curriculum, develop outcomes that define the contemporary ideal graduate, and create a curriculum map resulting in specific courses. By addressing gaps, redundancies, and sequencing issues in the curriculum, the team can better strategically position the program for ongoing growth and excellence.
Now that the review process is complete, the department can apply it to the undergraduate program. It is not, however, limited only to Texas A&M.
From the beginning, Patrick envisioned both local and national outcomes. He hoped to provide a process and framework that the biomedical engineering education community could adopt and use to review their curricula.
“The Continuity Checkup Process can be generalized and extended to other biomedical engineering programs as they look towards assessing and redesigning curricula motivated by continuous improvement and responding to transformation in engineering education, future industry needs, rapid scientific and technological innovation, and societal changes,” he said. “The process can be used for any of the three curriculum strategies of change—add-on, integration, or re-building.”
Contributors to the paper include several biomedical engineering faculty: Dr. Reza Avazmohammadi, assistant professor; Dr. Daniel Alge, associate professor; Dr. Charles W. Peak, instructional assistant professor; and Dr. Mike McShane, professor and department head.
Biomedical engineering’s curriculum review and redesign is complete and approved by the faculty and the external advisory Board. The redesigned curriculum will be implemented in the fall 2023 catalog.