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This submission presents a method developed to monitor and stimulate the progression of learning in professional study programs. Multi-stage cases based on real industrial situations were used to monitor a range of integrated core professional skills relating to subject discipline knowledge and professional conduct among teams of chemical engineer and biotechnology students. Separate sessions were arranged with student groups from pre-university classes, 1st, 3rd and 5th year of university studies. These cohorts were all monitored using the same case. We used cases that are relatively simple in terms of the presentation material (limited info added at each stage of the case) and analytical dimension (immediately discerned questions) but advanced in terms of conceptual complexity (cf. Leenders et al. 2010), so that each session lasted approximately two hours.
The monitored aspects were:
These foci include aspects stressed in national (Swedish) requirements on engineering study program outcomes, as well as values encountered in focus group interviews with students, alumni and teachers of the two study programs, along with input from interviews of potential employers of these students. Our integrative approach differs from progress testing of knowledge items that is commonplace in medical training (Muijtjens et al 2008) and from curriculum mapping used in engineering schools internationally (CDIO, Malmqvist et al.2005).
Case class leader and case team observers (academics from the teaching teams) reported and discussed student team performance after each session and subsequently reported their findings back to the student teams and to us.
At the 2012 ISL conference we aim to present the observed pattern of documented study program progression in professional skills and how this can be used to further support development of professional skills. One general observation is that with increased skills in professional problem solving and “businessmindedness”, ethical concerns became gradually less pronounced. We have therefore concluded that issues of ethics and risk need to be better integrated in teaching and learning in the latter part of the two investigated study programs.
progression of learning, progress testing, student problem solving observations.