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Developing and evaluating risk awareness in undergraduates

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					Developing and evaluating
risk awareness in
undergraduates studying
mechanical engineering at UCT

G.S. Langdon 1,2 *, P.G. Mufamadi 1 ,
K.J. Balchin 1 & C.J. von Klemperer 1
1 Department   of Mechanical Engineering, UCT
2 Centre   for Research in Engineering Education, UCT




                                                        1
OUTLINE
1. Background - why this is important?
2. How do we evaluate student risk awareness?
3. Results
4. Interventions we have made
5. Future plans




                                                2
  Background – Risk awareness
• Hazard is the potential to cause harm; risk is the likelihood 
  of harm (in defined circumstances, and usually qualified by 
  some statement of the severity of the harm). 
• Mechanical Engineering graduates should be trained to work 
  in situations that require them to understand and evaluate 
  risks and take appropriate action. 
• Common objection: is this our responsibility?




                                                                   3
4
  Fitting it all in
“And how is education supposed to make me feel smarter?
Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some
old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home
winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?”

Homer Simpson




                                                        5
 Accreditation requirements
• Outcomes based education defines measurable graduate 
  attributes or outputs (exit level outcomes, or competencies) 
  that must be achieved in order for students to graduate 
  from a degree programme. 
• Worldwide, the professional education bodies for 
  engineering have embraced the concept of outcomes (or 
  competencies) as the only approach to determining the 
  equivalency of an engineering graduate (and therefore the 
  engineering programme). 
• At UCT, this involves a 5 yearly cycle of accreditation visits 
  by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) where 
  we present evidence that our Mechanical Engineering 
  graduates are meeting the ten ECSA exit level outcomes. 




                                                                    6
ECSA REQUIREMENTS
From: Engineering Council of South Africa (2004) Whole
qualification standard for bachelor of science in
engineering/bachelors of engineering, PE-61/E-02-PE Revision 2.




                                                                  7
   Developing engineering identity
• Recently, CREE produced a position paper on learning and 
  concluded that learning in HEIs involves the development of 
  discursive identity in graduates
   • “becoming” an engineer – learning to think, speak, act 
     and behave like an engineer
• Legitimate peripheral 
  participation in communities of 
  practice is a good way to 
  develop discursive identity
• Health, safety and the 
  environment are an integral 
  part of an engineering job
• In other words, we must let 
  them practice so they can pull 
  it off when they graduate




                                                                 8
   Evaluating risk awareness
• A risk awareness survey developed at the University of 
  Liverpool was modified for use at UCT (with permission), 
  using the following criteria:
   • must be easily understood by students whose first 
     language is not English;
   • must have information relevant to South Africa (e.g. 
     legislation);
   • must be limited to risk in engineering (rather than risk in 
     everyday life);
   • must contain questions that can be completed within 15 
     minutes;
   • results should be comparable to those obtained by UOL 
     (Schleyer et al. 2007);
   • must meet the ethical standards of UCT.




                                                                    9
10
   Survey tool
• The survey had questions in five areas:
   • Concepts of hazard, safety and risk as part of everyday 
     life.
   • Knowledge of an engineer’s professional responsibility.
   • Principles of hazard identification and risk assessment
   • Techniques for reducing and controlling risk
   • Potential exposure to hazards and risk in the workplace.

  Students from 1st, 2nd and 3rd year undergraduate Mechanical 
  and Electro-Mechanical Engineering degree programmes 
  were asked to participate on a voluntary basis.
  Results were compared to those obtained from 1st year 
  students at the University of Liverpool




                                                                11
Survey questions




                   12
Survey results – overall performance




                                       13
Survey results – by topic




                            14
Survey results – by question




                               15
Survey results – pass or fail?
•   However one measures success or failure, there is clearly a problem, 
    either with the survey tool or the student awareness of risk and 
    related health and safety concepts 
•   There is a clear improvement in the 3rd year UCT student results
•   The Liverpool students fare much better than UCT students 
•   UOL  = first year University of Liverpool student data




                                                                            16
Analysis of survey responses
• Three of the questions are acknowledged to have debatable 
  answers, with some disagreement between safety experts 
  as to the correct option (both in the UK and South Africa)
• Students exhibited poor understanding of risk reduction and 
  risk control measures
• Students performed best on hazard identification in the 
  workplace




                                                             17
 Analysis of survey responses
• Improvements in 3rd year performance were attributed to 
  the 3rd year design curriculum which formally covers 
  certain aspects of risk awareness, including the ones 
  showing improved performance
• The development of a 
  completely new survey is 
  underway at present. 
• Results were compared to 
  those obtained from our 
  graduate exit survey in 2010.  




                                                             18
Exit survey on graduation




                            19
Exit survey on graduation




                            20
Interventions
Already implemented:
• Implementation of a formal risk assessment process at 
  final year project level
• Incorporating safety talks in each year from a safety expert, 
  linked to the EBE faculty annual safety week.
• Compulsory attendance at the workshop safety training 
  afternoon for final year undergraduate students


• However, what we really need is a change in the 
  curriculum – to fully embed these concepts in our students




                                                               21
Interventions
For the future:
• Embedding risk concepts into all years, from entry through 
  to exit level:
   • Curriculum review (currently ongoing) - incorporating 
     health, safety and risk education into more fully into 
     our undergraduate curriculum, including formal 
     lectures in a new course on Engineering 
     Professionalism
   • Continue to develop UCT’s own evaluation tools to 
     assess student risk awareness
   • Looking at horizontal and vertical coherence of “golden 
     strands” like risk through our degree progression




                                                                22
    Thank you for your attention…
    please complete a risk assessment before driving home..



• In South Africa, 
  there were  10837 
  fatal car crashes in 
  2009.
• This resulted in 
  13768 fatalities.
• 4927 of the 
  fatalities were 
  pedestrians, 258 
  were cyclists
•   www.arrivealive.co.za




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