The ethics of curriculum development: Engineers and technicians in a context of development: Engineers and technicians in a context of development

Chris Winberg, Penelope Engel-Hills, Arie Rip, Simon Winberg

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    South African higher education has, for the last twenty years, attempted to confront the legacy its past, particularly the lack of access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based (STEM) education by the vast majority of potential students. The current policy environment is dominated by a drive towards high skills jobs and innovation that links research to new forms of production and new services. With the promulgation of a new "Higher Education Qualifications Sub-framework" (HEQSF, 2013) in South Africa there has been considerable curriculum development work across a number of fields and disciplines to enable the "high skills" agenda. Many programs that served as entry qualifications to employment as computer engineering technicians have been subject to upward re-curriculation towards engineering programs. A concern is the lack of clarity around appropriate qualifications and skills levels for a developing country and what might differentiate engineering technician programs from professional engineering programs. There are deep concerns in South Africa about the need to transform society, in particular to ensure that the legitimate aspirations of black South Africans are met and that talented young citizens are able to access higher education and obtain qualifications that enable them to enter the workplace and contribute meaningfully to development. In this paper we discuss the ethics of curriculum development, and argue for an ethical framework to assist institutions to guide curricular decision-making in engineering. A methodology for curricular comparison was developed from the work of Karl Maton on "semantic waves" that was used to construct a systematic comparison between a technician and engineering programme in the field of computer engineering. We show distinct knowledge differences between two programs, one a technician's diploma and the other an professional engineering degree program. We use the findings to illustrate wider concerns about the ethics of/in engineering curriculum development in South Africa as a developing country with a transformation agenda.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication2014 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Science, Technology and Engineering, ETHICS 2014
    PublisherIEEE
    ISBN (Electronic)9781479949922
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Keywords

    • curriculum renewal
    • development contexts
    • engineering professions
    • skills shortages

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    Winberg, C., Engel-Hills, P., Rip, A., & Winberg, S. (2014). The ethics of curriculum development: Engineers and technicians in a context of development: Engineers and technicians in a context of development. In 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Science, Technology and Engineering, ETHICS 2014 [6893429] IEEE. https://doi.org/10.1109/ETHICS.2014.6893429