It is becoming increasingly clear that higher education must adapt to address the needs and learning styles of a new generation of students and to provide students with the mindset and skillset to create personal, economic, and societal value through a lifetime of meaningful work. Here, we describe our global strategy to create a learning continuum, so students retain fundamental principles and have context to strengthen their knowledge as they progress. We have utilized a three-phase process involving curriculum evaluation, faculty recruitment, and module development and implementation, while planning for a fourth phase, assessment. We have evaluated the undergraduate, Bioengineering curriculum in its entirety, identifying the areas where the three concepts from the KEEN engineering education network – curiosity, connections, creating value – could be implemented in a more comprehensive manner across the Bioengineering curriculum, and mapping topics across the 4-year curriculum, in integrated core classes, as well as through track/concentration-specific courses and technical electives. In addition, we initiated a “customer discovery” process, through which the key stakeholders, the Bioengineering students and faculty members, were surveyed to provide input about course topics for which achievement of student learning objectives was particularly challenging. The results of this survey presented us with the opportunity to target curriculum development for specific topics in multiple courses, across the curriculum with the goal of students gaining a more complete understanding of the material. Our efforts have seen not only an expansion in the number of Bioengineering faculty members engaged in continuous curriculum improvement, but increased faculty interaction during curriculum development, resulting in the potential for strengthening a number of content themes, presented with increasing depth across multiple courses, from years one to four. Collectively, we are developing modules through which faculty can create context connections in earlier courses and give students the tools to think progressively about topics as they follow the curriculum. We have adopted a set of specific behaviors, previously cited by the faculty at Ohio Northern University, to provide faculty of examples of what to assess as curricular innovation is incorporated into their courses. Additionally, these extended student outcomes have been mapped to ABET outcomes. To date, project-based learning (PBL) activities have been implemented or are planned in most of the second and third year Bioengineering integrated core classes, as well as several of the track-specific courses and upper level elective courses. As we move forward, establishing an effective assessment mechanism to measure student outcomes will be a key component our continuous curriculum improvement plan.
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