Mapping learning outcomes across biological and agricultural engineering concentrations within the curriculum
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American Society for Engineering Education, 2018. Biological and Agricultural engineers possess knowledge, skills and abilities which allow them to work in many technical sectors. Oftentimes, due to their breadth of knowledge and lack of exposure, they must distinguish themselves from other engineering disciplines. Biological and Agricultural engineering (BAE) undergraduate curricula provide students with an opportunity to specialize their learning in specific concentrations such as water and soil conservation, air quality, agricultural systems/power & machinery, renewable energy, and post-harvest processing/food engineering/bioprocess engineering. In an effort to identify distinguishing characteristics of a BAE, learning outcomes were mapped to specific concentrations and specific knowledge areas for the BAE curriculum at Texas A&M University. Learning outcomes have been viewed as the standard for measuring the knowledge, skills and attitudes a student has obtained. Mapping of these learning outcomes could function as indicators of students' abilities to perform in careers focused on their concentration and distinguish them from graduates of other disciplines. In an effort to develop a more holistic picture of the discipline for students and employers, faculty from the department at this university identified learning outcomes (LOs) (labeled 'a' through 'at') which shape the development of a BAE student in any concentration area. Learning outcomes of four concentrations within BAE program were analyzed, across 19 specific knowledge areas (KAs). Results indicated that specific KAs overlap across concentrations, and the most common learning outcome was post-harvest/food engineering/bioprocess engineering. It was determined that the initial knowledge areas could be reduced by combining common themes to still fit the correlated learning outcomes. The primary goal of this work was to identify the learning outcomes mastery and specific knowledge areas that BAE students should gain through core curriculum courses. This research problem was addressed through analysis and frequency clustering of an existing report, by exploring the following investigative question: 1) what are the specific knowledge areas that define a BAE graduate despite concentration/area of emphasis and 2) how do the top learning outcomes, knowledge areas and concentrations describe the BAE program and expectations of the graduates. The results from this mapping were the first steps in identifying gaps in knowledge and technical expertise areas students possess before entering their careers. In the future, these results will be combined with mapping of other outcomes and faculty input to inform the development of learning modules specific for training of BAE going into industry and extension careers.
ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
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