Boundary Judgments in Engineering Curriculum Design using Critical Systems Heuristics

Various methods have been developed and used in designing learning programs, but in complex situations such as in engineering curriculum design where the boundaries of the discipline are much wider a key question remains: How to design a better curriculum in a systemic way? In this paper the authors explore the applicability of Ulrich’s Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH) methodology to curriculum design in engineering. The approach provides a clear and generic critical path to addressing the issues arising out of conflicting needs and interests when making choice in complex situations. Among the core concepts in CSH are the notion of Boundary Judgments and their critique relating to promoting improvement in a problem situation. The paper shows how to adapt Ulrich’s approach to engineering curriculum design and documents an application of the proposed methodology to curriculum improvements in an engineering program in South Africa. The results demonstrate the appropriateness of CSH as a robust pragmatic framework for engineering curriculum design.

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