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RR702 - Integrating risk concepts into undergraduate engineering courses

This report describes a joint project conducted by HSL and the University of Liverpool Engineering Department to integrate risk concepts into their undergraduate engineering course. The project defined risk education learning outcomes that can be integrated into an undergraduate engineering curriculum and implementing them by merging new teaching materials (involving real accident case studies) into core engineering modules. The success of the project has been evaluated in terms of student’s understanding of risk, at different points during their course, and interactions of the project team with academic staff. A student questionnaire of approximately 50 multiple-choice questions to ascertain student’s understanding of risk was developed to support both development of materials and their evaluation. The report makes a number of recommendations for future collaboration between HSE and a range of stakeholders and relates these to HSE’s ‘Be part of the solution’ strategy (2009), the ongoing sensible risk campaign and the EU campaign (2008-2009) to promote and demystify the risk assessment process. Issues raised, which other educational institutions seeking to undertake a similar process should consider, are:

  1. Promotion of the risk theme to other members of staff who do not view it as a priority and gaining their support to allow inclusion of new materials in their modules;
  2. Overcoming competing demands for time on the curriculum;
  3. Motivating students to engage with the materials from the perspective of relevance, interest and marks; and
  4. Remaining focused on the key objectives.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2010-03-19