Teaching, assessing and operational sustainability in UCL's chemical engineering capstone design project

Nayak-Luke, R. and Odunsi, A. and Badmos, S. and Pollock, M.; (2022) Teaching, assessing and operational sustainability in UCL's chemical engineering capstone design project. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium for Engineering Education. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. ISBN 9781914241208

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Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future, as set out in the UN sustainable development goals. This paper outlines how sustainability is embedded both technically in the various aspects of the UCL third-year chemical engineering capstone design project, and in the design, delivery, and assessment of the module. The project brief necessitates the consideration of the environmental impact of the design in a manner consistent with that set out by professional bodies such as the IChemE. In the delivery of the module, learners engage in individual and collaborative learning, undertake formative assessments, provide, and receive formative feedback and are empowered to practise sustainable self-learning. Sustainable assessment is promoted using a single rubric that allows learners and educators to gain familiarity with course expectations, ensures consistency in feedback given in summative assessments and enables learners to attain higher levels in the rubric in subsequent submissions. Sustainable delivery and self-learning allow both learners and educators to develop skillsets relevant to their career development. Learners’ perspectives showed the majority of learners were aware of the importance of sustainability, felt empowered for future self-learning and felt that they applied their knowledge of sustainability, although they highlighted sections where this could be clearer. Reflecting on this, educators could signpost more clearly how sustainability informs technical decisions in these sections, while being mindful of balancing this with giving learners challenging yet achievable projects within the constraints of delivering the module and meeting all learning outcomes.

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