"Biggs + ACAD =?" Evaluating an international authentic learning pilot in education for sustainable development

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Caldera, Savindi
Desha, Cheryl
Fukui, Hiromichi
Yasumoto, Shinya
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Brisbane, Australia

There is a persistent dialogue in engineering education literature globally, lamenting the higher than average attrition rate amongst professional degrees, and the lack of female representation in undergraduate student cohorts. There is also a growing call by engineering professional organisations in Australia and internationally, for a shift in context for engineering education, to embed ‘making a difference’ with regard to international calls to action such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Response. The first-author has been on a journey of nearly two decades co-authoring text-books and open-source curricula and including a PhD on rapidly build capacity for sustainable development. Over the last five years the academic has been exploring a ‘missing link’ in engineering competencies towards this end-goal, in the form of geospatial knowledge and skills. This coincides with the Federal Government’s launch of “Digital Earth Australia”, which was formed to connect society with high quality current and historical data on a myriad of physical, environmental and social topic areas. Drawing on the context of, “Everything is connected, and where is critical”, this paper explores the question of what it takes to imbue engineering students with the capacity to contribute to sustainable development. Specifically, the paper evaluates the international course-work pilot undertaken over 2017-2018 in collaboration with Chubu University (Nagoya, Japan). This paper presents the experience and results as a case study that is transferable and replicable by other academics in Australia and overseas. Specifically, the authors reflect on the value of connecting two theories: Biggs 3P and Activity-Centred Analysis and Design (ACAD). The paper draws on two years of data gathered from 21 Griffith University students who participated in the course, and a similar number of Chubu University students in addition to 14 Chubu University academics involved in teaching the 2-week intensive in Japan. This includes student surveys, focus groups and assessment items to report on student learning outcomes and appreciation of engineering for 21st Century needs. The paper will report on the observed shift in student perceptions, and their experience of the importance of geospatial within their engineering degree program. The paper will conclude with commentary by the co-authors on the practicality of using this teaching strategy to: 1) motivate students, particularly in first year, and b) inculcate the necessary knowledge and skills within engineering education, towards engineering practice that addresses 21st Century needs.This paper will draw on three fields of literature, including: 1) engineering sustainability themes in curricula; 2) digital earth and sustainable development literature; and 3) theoretical papers including Biggs’ seminal 3P Model (1987), and Goodyear’s ACAD theory (2017). The paper builds on and complements an industry-facing paper first-authored by the same first-author, to be presented prior to AaeE, at the International Society for Digital Earth conference (Florence, September 2019).

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30th Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2019): Educators Becoming Agents of Change: Innovate, Integrate, Motivate
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© The Author(s) 2019. The attached file is posted here with permission of the copyright owner(s) for your personal use only. No further distribution permitted. For information about this conference please refer to the conference’s website or contact the author(s).
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Caldera, H; Desha, C; Fukui, H; Yasumoto, S, "Biggs + ACAD =?" Evaluating an international authentic learning pilot in education for sustainable development, Proceedings of the AAEE 2019 30th Annual Conference, 2019