A Curricula and Study Plan Analysis Project

by Prof. Jiri Witzany and Dr. Ivo Vavra

This project was carried out during the period from 1 January to 30 September 1994 and was supported within the framework of the TEMPUS-Complementary Measures Grant 93/94 Project. The contractor of the research was AECEF President, Prof. J. Witzany.

The Objectives, Methods and Targets of the Research

The research was above all targeted towards carrying out an analysis of curricula and study plans at both European and North-American universities and technical colleges specializing in civil engineering and surveying. The research methods focused on obtaining data about the type of school and its position within the framework of the university or college, about the structure of the curricula, about the length of study, the duration of the students' practical training, about the division of study and the branches of specialisation. It also focused on obtaining data about the number of students and teachers, the admission procedures to university, the ways of terminating the study as well as the types of degrees awarded.

The project's survey data was gained through a questionnaire which was accompanied by a request to individual respondents to enclose their respective curricula. The questionnaire emphasised that the obtained data would be used entirely for statistical purposes without being published separately. Due to the considerable extent of the questionnaire and the great number of respondents, computer processing of the obtained data was applied.

The questionnaire was sent to 36 schools of university status specializing in civil engineering (CE) which are AECEF members, as well as to 85 other schools offering instruction in CE which have not become AECEF members yet.

The aim of the research was to get a survey of the current contents and objectives of study programmes in order to help formulate the requirements concerning both the extent and depth of knowledge necessary to be obtained by the graduates of European university status schools providing instruction in civil engineering and surveying during their studies so that they may be accepted as experts throughout Europe. This would make it possible to introduce much greater freedom of movement of students between individual schools within the framework of European studies in the future.

Another objective of the research was to find out whether there exist any correlational relationships between selected individual factors, such as the number of students, the number of teachers, the extent of study etc. which could contribute to the rationalisation of the teaching process in the future.

The results of the research will be used during preparation of the First AECEF International Symposium which will, having discussed the conclusions of the research, then formulate recommendations for modifications of curricula and the system of study at universities offering instruction in civil engineering and surveying. Particular results of the research were also presented at the SEFI Conference organized in Prague during September 1994.

Further presentations of the results of this research can be expected at the CIB - W 89 Conference in Orlando in April 1995 on a similar topic and at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in Denver (Colorado) from June 8 to 11, 1995.

The information data base on individual schools being built up during this project will be accessible to all AECEF members in the future providing thus a deeper mutual source of information which will certainly enable and expand the reciprocal exchange of ideas and students as well as teachers.

The results of the research have also been used for improving the original questionnaire; at present a second round of research is being conducted whose results are to be processed still before the opening of the First AECEF 1995 Symposium.

Basic Characteristics of Universities Included in the Research

Within the framework of this research, questionnaires have been completed by 29 institutions in all. The percentage of different types of schools is as follows:

Universities 48.0 %
Technical Universities 45.0 %
Technical Colleges 3.0 %
Other types 4.0 %

The teaching of civil engineering and surveying is carried out at:

Independent Faculties of Civil Engineering 52.0 %
Departments which are part of Engineering Faculties 41.0 %
Colleges of Civil Engineering 3.0 %
Other types of schools 4.0 %

These schools are headed in 52.0 % by Deans, in 41.0 % by Heads of Departments and in 7.0 % by Chairpersons.

46.0 % of schools enrol students without entrance interviews; 38.0 % of schools limit the number of students by setting a study average to be achieved at secondary school; 31.0 % of schools organize entrance interviews from which the most successful candidates are selected to fill the positions available; 12.0 % of schools require previous building practice from students to be accepted.

The size of individual schools may best be characterized by the number of enrolled students. The average number of students studying CE at any of the surveyed schools amounts to 925. The maximum number of students, being 4561, is held by the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Czech Technical University while the minimum number of students, being 85, study at the University of Kansas. The descending size order of schools reflected by the number of students, as derived from the questionnaire data, is given in Fig. 1.

Fig.1 List of the schools offering CE and Surveying courses of study
arranged according to the overall number of students

Structure of curricula, types of teaching

In order to consider the basic structure of individual schools' curricula the subjects taught had to be divided into groups. The following groups have been used:

At the same time, the years of study in which the given groups of subjects are taught have been monitored. This data is presented in Table 1, which includes the average and the maximum obtained for each given group of subjects.

Since all schools in question enclosed detailed curricula with their questionnaires, any modifications or detailed analysis of the representation of individual subjects may be carried out, if need be, at any time in the future.

The average values given in table 1 are shown in Figure 2. The year of beginning the study of individual subject groups is as follows:

  1 year 2 year 3 year 4 year
Humanities: 76.0 % 19.0 % 5.0 % -
Basic Subjects: 96.0 % 4.0 % - -
Engineering Subjects: 52.0 % 36.0 % 12.0 % -
Concentration on CE: 15.0 % 12.0 % 65.0 % 8.0 %

In the next section, the analysis has concentrated on the types of teaching at individual schools and on their share in the overall study time. The results are given in Table 2, while the average values are shown in Figure 3.

Fig. 2 Representation of the individual subject groups
in the undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral study of CE and Surveying

Fig. 3 Representation of the different types of teaching
in undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral study of CE and Surveying

Table 1

Percentage Undergraduate Study1) Postgraduate Study2) Doctoral Study3)
average max. average max. average max.
Humanities 7.3 22.0 4.5 13.2 1.5 10.0
Basic Subjects 29.5 40.0 10.8 34.4 5.2 40.0
General Engineering Subjects 25.4 54.1 17.1 49.0 5.2 30.0
Professional CE Subjects 33.3 69.0 52.0 90.0 34.2 80.0
Final Work 4.5 30.0 15.6 67.0 53.9 100.0
1) Bachelor Study, 2) Master Study, Dipl. Ing. , Ing. (Engineer), 3) PhD, Dr

Table 2

Percentage Undergraduate Study1) Postgraduate Study2) Doctoral Study3)
max. aver. min. max. aver. min. max. aver. min.
Lectures 86.5 58.1 40 83.2 56.8 37.5 100 48 0
Projects 30 12.7 0 40 16.9 0 100 37.9 0
Seminars 42 11.1 0 40 12.6 0 58 11.1 0
Visit and Work on Building Site 15 3.3 0 9.1 2.8 0 5 1.1 0
Laboratory Assignments 48 14.8 0 38 10.9 0 56 11.9 0
1), 2), 3) - see footnotes Table 1

Evening courses are offered by 27 % of schools, while 31 % of schools offer external studies.

Further research results will be presented in the following issue of the AECEF Newsletter.

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