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    A Qualitative Study into the Impact of Outcomes Based Education on Engineering Educators and Engineering Education in the Technical Higher Education Sector in Ireland

    Gallery, Richard (2021) A Qualitative Study into the Impact of Outcomes Based Education on Engineering Educators and Engineering Education in the Technical Higher Education Sector in Ireland. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

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    This thesis considers the effect the transition to outcomes based education (OBE) has had on engineering educators and engineering education in the Institutes of Technology (IoTs) in Ireland. Whereas engineering education research into learning outcomes largely focuses on how teaching may better align with their use, the focus of this research, the effect OBE has on both engineering educators and engineering education, receives little attention in the literature. I conduct this research as an engineering educator seeking to understand how we have been shaped by OBE, and how this is affecting the education of future generations of engineers. My research employs a qualitative methodology, in which I consider this impact as perceived and experienced by a sample of IoT engineering academics. My research highlights the influence of the market in shaping engineering education, which can be regarded through Bernstein’s (2000) concept of engineering as a region, facing inward to academia, but outward to the market, mediated by the professional bodies. This leads me to draw selectively on social realism, alongside my experience as an engineering educator, as a conceptual framework. This emphasises the need to gain comprehensive understanding of the historical context in which my research is situated, for which my literature review encompasses a number of inter-related socio-historical accounts: of the early development of Irish engineering education; of the establishment of the Regional Technical Colleges (which became the IoTs) to implement government policy that saw education, particularly technician education, as key to improving the life of the citizenry through economic advancement; the later development of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) as part of a skills-focussed reorientation of higher education; and the reasons for, and consequences of, the adoption of OBE for engineering accreditation, internationally and in Ireland. The fieldwork, comprising interviews and a focus group with engineering academics, reveals the perceptions of my research participants of the effect that OBE is having on their academic identity, including their approach to curriculum and pedagogy, and provides insight into the structure of engineering education, and the identity formation of students. I will show that my interviewees regard OBE as effective, in terms of: facilitating communication; improving access to education; impacting positively on pedagogy; and as a framework for curriculum design. However, my research critiques the assessment focussed pedagogy that they appear to have adopted as a consequence, questions the appropriateness of the ‘language of levels’ related to NFQ terminology that has emerged in our pedagogic discourse, and raises concerns about the impact on curriculum and the structure of engineering education.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Qualitative Study; Impact; Outcomes Based Education; Engineering Educators; Engineering Education; Technical Higher Education Sector; Ireland;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Adult and Community Education
    Item ID: 14869
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2021 16:24
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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