Publication Details

Nghiem, L. D., Goldfinch, T. Bell, M. (2010). Embedding graduate attribute development into the engineering curriculum: less is more?. In A. Gardner L. Jolly (Eds.), The 21st Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (pp. 165-169). Sydney: Australasia Association of Engineering Education.


'Graduate Attributes' is a term which all too frequently sends shivers down the spines of engineering academics. The idea of having to instil a diverse set of professional behaviours and attitudes in youthful engineering students, while still ensuring a level of technical competence, can be intimidating for many. With high stakes associated with accreditation, high level university policy, and external government auditing, there can be perception that addressing as many different attributes as possible in a subject is desirable. Recent research at the University of Wollongong suggests that the idea of tackling several different Graduate attributes may be ineffective. This paper describes a review of six different engineering subjects which investigated what was being done in each subject to address Graduate Attributes, and how these efforts were perceived by students. The findings indicate that subjects addressing just a few graduate attributes in an explicit and in-depth manner may have more effective learning outcomes than subjects attempting to address numerous attributes. Also discussed are issues surrounding academics perceptions of Graduate attributes statements, and how these impact on teaching approaches and student perceptions.

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