Tracks courses to develop cross-disciplinary competences
Tracks is one of the biggest investments in education in the 190-year history of Chalmers. The purpose is to create and test a new educational model where the structure of the education is developed to:
- Allow students to create cross-disciplinary competencies,
- Meet the students' expectations and need for a more individualized study plan
- Shorten the lead times for changing the education offer
The new educational model is based on the creation of Tracks with different current themes between existing educations. As part of Tracks, there will also be a major investment in Chalmers' learning environment.
Give students the right tools to address complex societal challenges
Through an analysis of our society, the following three trends have been identified, which primarily affect Chalmers' role in the society and thus the expectations that exist for our education and of our students:
- Complex societal challenges with greater demands on competence for work over disciplinary boundaries
- Changed expectations among and of the students, including lifelong learning
- The ever-shorter lead times for (digital) technology development
Studies within engineering- and architecture have historically been organized by discipline: mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, etc. Deep knowledge in these subjects is necessary for qualitative engineering work, but engineers also need to develop knowledge and skills in teamwork, ethics, communication, entrepreneurship, so-called "professional skills", without compromising the deep subject knowledge. As a student, achieving these two goals at the same time requires new ways of learning that combine in-depth study with the development of professional skills (Crawley, 2014). Also, there are now expectations that engineers will address complex societal challenges and problems, including both social and technical aspects (UN, Sustainable Development Goals, 2018; NAE, Grand Challenges, 2008, The Mazzucato report, 2018).
Today, Chalmers’ educational model is designed as a programme leading to a professional or general degree. The degree objectives are in line with national educational objectives. Each programme has its own programme plan and they are grouped through quality assurance processes in which examinations take place according to the rule of law. Today's programme design allows some limited individualization for the student. The introduction of a new course element, from idea to full impact, takes up to two years. To be able to offer the students an up-to-date and relevant education, the way to develop the education also needs to be adapted.
Tracks consist mainly of two parts: learning and learning environment.
The idea of the project is to create individual, personal and flexible study opportunities by introducing Track-courses to Chalmers students. These courses are optional and address specific challenges. They lie "between" the programmes, where the student will meet students from other programmes and prepare to solve the complex problems of the future. The students will work together, often but not only in projects, and have different educational backgrounds. The courses will be open to many educational programmes at Chalmers to create a mix of students with different backgrounds. The students may also have varied experience from working in projects. Students will be able to join Tracks courses from year 2-5 and the idea is that there is at least one course per study year available within each theme. If a student chooses to take one Tracks course per year within one theme they will follow an optional “Track”. This is one possibility but it will also be possible to study only one course or combine Tracks courses from different themes.
Tracks also include a large investment in Chalmers' learning environment. To meet the needs of the Tracks courses, Chalmers shall create a prominent and flexible learning environment in which you can form project spaces both physically and digitally through a high degree of interaction with industry representatives, users and internships in the community. A modern work environment is also needed, for example with computer resources for machine learning and artificial intelligence, AI. Other examples are lab and hybrid virtual-physical environments where students can model, build, test and evaluate prototypes, as well as open creative areas for group work and informal spaces for meetings etcetera.
There were two student information events during the spring of 2020. Both of them were held in Canvas.
Crawley, E. F., Malmqvist, J. Östlund, S., Brodeur, D. R. (2014) Rethinking Engineering Education - The CDIO Approach, 2nd edition. ISBN/ISSN: 978-3-319-05560-2. Springer-Verlag, New York.