REES AAEE 2O21 Research in Engineering Education Symposium & Australasian Association for Engineering Education 1

Keynote Speakers


Dr Cecelia Chan - REES AAEE 2O21 Research in Engineering Education Symposium & Australasian Association for Engineering Education

Dr. Cecilia Chan

President of The Asian Society for Engineering Education (AsiaSEE).
Head of Professional Development/Associate Professor, The University of Hong Kong

Assessment Literacy in Holistic Competency

Many universities around the world have acknowledged the importance of holistic competency (HC) for student development and have integrated HC into their educational missions (Male, Bush & Chapman, 2011). However, many such competencies remain loosely embedded in their curricula without being explicitly documented or assessed as expected course learning outcomes (Badcock, Pattison, & Harris, 2010; Luk & Chan, 2020). HC assessment is a longstanding challenge in higher education (Gibb, 2014; Chan et al., 2017).

Many studies (Hughes & Barrie, 2010; Hooker & Whistance, 2016; Nghia, 2018) argue that the lack of a formal framework for HC assessment has discouraged teachers and students alike from taking HC development seriously. High-level assessment literacy should unquestionably be a common expectation of university academics (Campbell, Murphy, & Holt, 2002). However, according to many programme evaluations, assessment illiteracy is resulting in inaccurate assessments of students (HKUSLEQ, 2017, n.p.). Furthermore, a plethora of inconsistent and varied assessment approaches are used in different universities and countries, with the inventories used by different universities often containing different items. With little understanding of students’ and teachers’ HC assessment literacy (Chan & Luo, 2020; Chan & Luk, 2021), and no evidence-based framework or guidelines for assessment design, universities lack convincing data to introduce policies to tackle the issue of assessment in HC development.

Do students want to be assessed for HC development?
Do employers want to see graduates’ HC development?
Do universities have a systematic plan for HC certification?

To implement such a plan, we must first have an understanding of teacher and student HC assessment literacy.

In this talk, we will address the questions above from an evidence-based approach and provide a plan in progress for HC certification.

Dr. Cecilia Chan's Biography

Dr. Cecilia Chan is the Head of Professional Development in the Centre of the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at The University of Hong Kong (HKU). Cecilia has a dual cultural background; she was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Ireland. In addition to her dual cultural background, she also has a dual discipline expertise in engineering and education; she has been playing a key role in enhancing engineering, and science education as well as teaching and learning in higher education. Her combined expertise in these fields and multi-cultural experience enabled her to lead and conduct research on topics such as assessment and feedback, experiential learning, technology enhanced learning and the development and assessment of 21st century skills spanning in education from east to west.

Dr. Chan also has substantial experience in holistic competency development and assessment in higher education and has been researching in this area for over ten years. She has developed a framework to assist teachers to integrate competency into the university curriculum and is also researching in approaches to assess these competencies.

Her work is employed in many parts of the world. She has been invited as keynote speaker and panel speaker to many international educational conferences in Korea, Singapore, United States, Estonia, United Kingdom, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia and Switzerland on teaching, learning and the assessment of generic competency including the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Cecilia holds a PhD in Engineering from Trinity College, a postgraduate diploma and a MA in Higher Education. She also held a Fellowship from King’s College London. Dr. Chan is involved in over 40 research/projects worldwide and was awarded the University of Hong Kong’s Young Outstanding Researcher Award and Knowledge Exchange award. She is the Chair for the Engineering Education Community in Hong Kong and the President for the Asian Society for Engineering Education (AsiaSEE) -

More information can be found on the Teaching and Learning Enhancement and Research Group (TLERG) website:

Emeritus Professor James Trevelyan - REES AAEE 2O21 Research in Engineering Education Symposium & Australasian Association for Engineering Education

Emeritus Professor James Trevelyan

School of Engineering, The University of Western Australia

What We Know and Mostly Don’t Know About Engineering Practices

Many papers at engineering education conferences directly or indirectly reference curriculum reforms, often justified in terms such as “meeting industry needs” or “improving graduate employability”.

However, higher education reforms over the last two decades have generated little change in employers’ perceptions of graduate capabilities. Further, career outcomes do not correlate well with performance in higher education assessments.

Engineering practice research since the 1990s has contributed a considerable body of knowledge demonstrating how social interactions are inextricably intertwined with technical capabilities in engineering workplaces. Responding to this, many educators have argued for much more emphasis on social skill development to balance the current overwhelming focus on technical capabilities.  However, the evidence that education changes lead to measurable performance improvements in engineering workplaces is missing.

I shall explain why new research directions in engineering practice and engineering education might address this critical weakness in education reform arguments. Recent research has exposed deeply embedded education and workplace practices that attenuate the influence of education reforms on the performances early-career engineers. Engineering workplace practices rely on intrinsically oral, interdependent social cultures embedded in and shaped by the cultures of the host societies. These cultures overwhelmingly shape engineering performances, along with workplace infrastructures. Formal education, in contrast, privileges independent thinking and actions, and also privileges writing over oral interactions.

It will take time to accumulate sufficient research on these issues to support curriculum changes with empirical evidence. In the meantime, there are simple education improvements that might ‘move the dial’ on workplace performances. I shall explain some in the talk.

Emeritus Professor James Trevelyan's Biography

Emeritus Professor James Trevelyan is an engineer, educator, researcher and recently a start-up entrepreneur.

CEO of Close Comfort, he is introducing new energy saving, low emissions air conditioning technology for a global market.

His research on engineering practice helped define the Engineers Australia professional competencies for chartered engineers. His books “The Making of an Expert Engineer” and “Learning Engineering Practice” are influencing the future of engineering education in universities and workplaces.

He is best known internationally for pioneering research on sheep shearing robots from 1975 till 1993 and for the first industrial robot that could be remotely operated via the internet in 1994. 

Web pages:

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Susan Marie

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Wes Moss

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