Applying threshold learning theory to teach sustainable business practice in post-graduate engineering education
Desha, Cheryl & Hargroves, Karlson 'Charlie' (2012) Applying threshold learning theory to teach sustainable business practice in post-graduate engineering education. In 119th American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference & Exposition, 10 - 13 June 2012, San Antonio, Texas, USA.
This paper presents the results of a qualitative action-research inquiry into how a highly diverse cohort of post-graduate students could develop significant capacity in sustainable development within a single unit (course), in this case a compulsory component of four built environment masters programs. The method comprised applying threshold learning theory within the technical discipline of sustainable development, to transform student understanding of sustainable business practice in the built environment. This involved identifying a number of key threshold concepts, which once learned would provide a pathway to having a transformational learning experience. Curriculum was then revised, to focus on stepping through these targeted concepts using a scaffolded, problem-based-learning approach. Challenges included a large class size of 120 students, a majority of international students, and a wide span of disciplinary backgrounds across the spectrum of built environment professionals. Five ‘key’ threshold learning concepts were identified and the renewed curriculum was piloted in Semester 2 of 2011. The paper presents details of the study and findings from a mixed-method evaluation approach through the semester. The outcomes of this study will be used to inform further review of the course in 2012, including further consideration of the threshold concepts. In future, it is anticipated that this case study will inform a framework for rapidly embedding sustainability within curriculum.
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