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The genesis of an undergraduate course: Reasoning, processes and problems

Matthew Simpson
The University of Western Australia
Finite element theory is a widespread technique used by engineers in the solution of differential systems to quantitatively describe several processes of interest. The applicability of finite element theory is unique to environmental engineering problems that are often characterised by irregularly shaped and heterogeneous systems. Problems of this nature are naturally handled by the finite element approach. Although the use of finite elements is commonplace in the professional life of an environmental engineer, the subject is almost devoid from the Australian undergraduate experience.

As a result of this observation, a complete set of teaching resources has been compiled regarding the preparation and delivery of a 10-week undergraduate program course in the area of finite element theory. The course is targeted at an audience of senior undergraduate, or beginner graduate students of environmental engineering or related disciplines. The selection of the course content was completely open, in part because of the absence of any text that is particularly focused upon this work for the intended audience. The various issues encountered and the reasoning for the choices made in the selection of the course content and preferred teaching format are discussed. Ideas for amendments to the content and format are proposed and evaluated in light of further experience gained through the development of the course, along with feedback being collected from the first student body being exposed to the work.

Author: Matthew Simpson, Graduate Student, Centre for Water Research, The University of Western Australia. simpson@cwr.uwa.edu.au

Presentation format: Roundtable

Please cite as: Simpson, M. (2002). The genesis of an undergraduate course: Reasoning, processes and problems. In Focusing on the Student. Proceedings of the 11th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 5-6 February 2002. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2002/abstracts/simpson-abs.html


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