A Systematic Approach to Implementing Complex Problem Solving in Engineering Curriculum

  • Chia Pao LiewEmail author
  • Siti Hawa Hamzah
  • Marlia Puteh
  • Shahrin Mohammad
  • Wan Hamidon Wan Badaruzzaman
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 1134)


Over the years, there are various reports that confirmed the importance of complex problem solving in the workplace. Complex problem solving is the top identified skill to thrive in the 4th Industrial Revolution and emphasised in the Washington Accord’s 12 Graduate Attributes. However, in most cases, engineering educators often fail to design complex engineering problems to equip the students with the mastery of this skill in preparing them for the workforce. This paper attempts to present a systematic approach for engineering educators in designing assessments with complex engineering problems. Methods of qualitative analysis was employed namely field notes from accreditation site visits to the Higher Learning Institutions (HLIs); document analysis on the guidelines by accreditation bodies; and extensive literature review on various learning theories to support the implementation of complex problems. The results showed that engineering educators have poor understanding of the attributes of complex problems and often failed to construct complex problems for their courses. The proposed approach has outlined two strategies in addressing the problems. Firstly, it detailed out the attributes of complex engineering problem as guidance for the HLIs in implementing the engineering curriculum. Secondly, it identified the most appropriate learning theory, appropriate teaching and delivery methods, as well as suitable courses to address complex engineering problem solving. The approach is heuristic in nature with an iterative process in observing the attainment of this important skill.


Complex engineering problem solving Ill-defined problem Washington accord 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chia Pao Liew
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Siti Hawa Hamzah
    • 2
  • Marlia Puteh
    • 3
  • Shahrin Mohammad
    • 2
    • 4
  • Wan Hamidon Wan Badaruzzaman
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Tunku Abdul Rahman University CollegeKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Engineering Accreditation DepartmentBoard of EngineersKuala LumpurMalaysia
  3. 3.Centre for Engineering EducationUniversiti Teknologi MalaysiaJohorMalaysia
  4. 4.Universiti Teknologi MalaysiaJohorMalaysia
  5. 5.Universiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaSelangorMalaysia

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