The research described in this thesis was undertaken in the belief that methods of evaluation could be developed which would prove useful in evaluating an undergraduate electrical engineering curriculum and in particular the extent to which it contributed to the development of higher mental processes in students. The thesis reviews the procedures available for curriculum evaluation and presents arguments leading to a decision to base the evaluation programme on the measurement of achievements which rely on the exercise of the defined mental processes. The aims and objectives of electrical engineering courses are considered and it is shown that representative aims and objectives can be classified using the cognitive levels of the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Bloom, 1956). The development of a test of mental processes is described and the results of a trial run and a full test analysis are included. This is followed by a detailed analysis of one of the main experimental stages - the application of the test to volunteers from all groups of students on the undergraduate electrical engineering course at the University of Bath. The development of a test of cognitive preferences is then described, together with a test analysis, and this is followed by the detailed analysis of the second of the main experimental stages - the application of the cognitive preference test to volunteers from all groups of students on the course. The results of the test of mental processes are compared with the examination results of the students taking the test, by means of a factor analysis. Finally, the results of the application of the test of mental processes to students of electrical engineering at the Lanchester Polytechnic are reported and compared with the results of the Bath tests. The statistical analyses contained in this thesis place reliance on the method of support (Edwards, 1972) in preference to the more commonly used null-hypothesis decision procedure. The reasons for this are given.
|Date of Award||1974|