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Multiple complementary partnerships in engineering education

Armarego, J. and Clarke, S. (2003) Multiple complementary partnerships in engineering education. In: Partners in Learning 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February, Edith Cowan University, Perth

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Requirements Engineering (RE) has been classed as a 'wicked' problem that is not well addressed by traditional formal education: studies show that the knowledge taught does not match the knowledge needed to be applied in daily work. Further studies suggest that the prescribed syllabus of formal courses is a major factor in the mismatch. This is the impetus for the review of the unit offered through the School of Engineering. It involves the development of a series of partnerships leading to a course that provides a solid foundation in subject matter while at the same time exposing students to inherent characteristics associated with real RE problems and the knowledge needed to solve them:

* Industry/university partnership: Our discussions with employers show that course content and graduate grades are no longer a major issue in graduate employment scenarios. The focus is on how students make the transition to being professionals within industry. The aim is to provide a more authentic learning environment, one that more closely simulates the real world, through a problem based learning (PBL) experience. PBL encourages students to practise and develop the skills they will use as professional Software Engineers.

* Expert/novice partnership: Feedback from our students suggests they want increased exposure to real world problems. One impetus for the restructure of this unit is that students wish to engage with the material on offer: 'you need more practical application of the theory you teach.' When the nature of the learning experience models work experiences, students perceive themselves as apprentice professionals, and learning results from undertaking activities guided by an expert.

* Teaching/learning/discipline (engineering) partnership: Providing a well-balanced learning experience requires expertise both in the domain and in the theory of learning. This restructure provides an opportunity for reflection on teaching practice.

This paper looks at the characteristics of these partnerships in the context of the redevelopment of the Requirements Engineering unit, and the issues raised by implementing PBL for learning basic disciplinary knowledge.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering
Publisher: Teaching and Learning Forum
Copyright: (c) authors
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