A substantial project exploring the organisation, supervision and assessment of final year engineering projects in Australia has mapped practices across 16 universities. It addressed the need that although Australia has a strong history of developing Final Year Engineering Projects (FYEPs) as capstone courses in engineering education, there is no national approach to assessment or supervision. Practices are varied and the project team has worked towards identifying good practice such that universities are better positioned to meet Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) level 8 outcomes.
The study set out to firstly map practices in relation to final year engineering or capstone projects and to consider the implications for compliance with AQF8 outcomes. The study explored how projects are developed, how they are supervised and assessed and explored the challenges faced by universities in FYEP practice. Data from phase 1, together with the national and international literature, has been used to inform the development of good practice guidelines. These guidelines have been developed specifically to assist universities in ensuring their undergraduate engineering embedded honours degrees meet and reflect AQF level 8 outcomes in the key areas of curriculum, supervision and assessment.
The project methodology was largely qualitative, adopting a case study approach. Data was gathered from 16 universities across Australia (from all states and territories) and included university documentation such as subject outlines, rubrics and student guidelines. Additionally, interviews were conducted with coordinators of final year project courses. Data was also gathered from participants during a conference workshop designed to explore understanding of AQF8. All data was coded and analysed inductively and deductively for themes. This data was then used to develop guidelines and resources for national dissemination.
The study has revealed great variation in assessment, curriculum and supervision practices in FYEPs across Australian universities and details of the nature of this variation is discussed. However, the study has also been able to identify good and next practice as seen by FYEP coordinators across a wide range of universities. Additionally, analysis in relation to AQF8 has enabled the team to propose guidelines and resources to support best practice in these areas and specifically in relation to meeting AQF8 outcomes.
This paper presents the overarching findings of a large study and whilst it initially confirms what is already known – that there is variation in how FYEPs are taught, assessed and supervised across Australia – it moves into new space by articulating the nature of these variations and proposing good and next practice guidelines. It also sets the scene for the related and more specific papers on curriculum, assessment and supervision.
Final Year Engineering Projects, assessment, curriculum, supervision