A Competency-Based Educational Model in a Chemical Engineering School*

Abstract

An educational model has been designed and implemented at the School of Chemical Engineering (ETSEQ) at Tarragona, Spain, to enable ChE students to acquire and integrate technical and scientific knowledge through the simultaneous and gradual development of competencies encompassing social and management skills. This model is based on the large-scale deployment of a project-based cooperative learning approach throughout the ChE curriculum. This extensive deployment can only be effective if it is supported by experts in change management and the systematic development of student teams that, in turn, requires that individual students develop key social and management skills. To this end, a partnership between the ETSEQ and Dow Chemical IbeÂrica was established in 1997. The expertise of Dow Chemical in team development and change management methodologies, gained from nearly a decade of implementation work, has complemented the practice of the ETSEQ with experiential learning methodologies. A set of external training interventions has been designed to support the development of competencies by students. In the new educational system student teams grow from leader-directed teams in the first semester of the first academic year to self-directed or empowered teams in the fifth year of the curriculum. In this empowerment journey, fourth-year students play a key role as they act as facilitative leaders of first-year and second-year project teams, adjusting their facilitative leadership role according to the team development stage. The core of the competency-based educational model is client orientation. The need to satisfy clients and to adapt to their changing needs triggers the development of competencies related to the transformation of the individual students (versatility, entrepreneurship and innovation, systemic thinking, etc.), of the organization (facilitative leadership, teamwork and cooperation), and of the institution (organizational development and performance, and organizational leadership). Preliminary results show that student attendance has increased, that drop out has decreased, that more professors act as facilitators in the classroom, and that active-oriented and student-centered educational methodologies are increasingly applied. In addition, the number of internships and first-job hirings at Dow has increased by nearly tenfold and threefold, respectively, since the first students educated under the new system graduated.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{WITTACE, title={A Competency-Based Educational Model in a Chemical Engineering School*}, author={HANS-JO{\`E} RG WITT and Joan Ramon Alabart and Francesc Giralt and Joan Herrero and L Vernis and Magda Medir} }