The Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Education Courseware was developed to recognize “outstanding courseware designed to enhance engineering education.” The Premier Award takes a broad view on “courseware”-—winning submissions have ranged from case studies to computer programming environments to interactive simulations. Winners are designated Premier Courseware and are recognized as much for the pedagogy, context of use and potential as the software itself.
Brief History of the Premier Award
The Premier Award was the result of three years of discussion from 1994-1997 by leaders in multimedia courseware development from the Synthesis and SUCCEED engineering education coalitions. The early-/mid-1990s saw the rise of the multimedia computer as a cost-effective educational tool; the power, performance, portability and potential of computing platforms has continued to increase every year since. In the early-/mid-1990s, the engineering education coalitions were funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation to develop innovative approaches and reform engineering education. One of the major tools used as part of that engineering education reform was educational software, which was termed “courseware”.
Leaders in the Synthesis and SUCCEED Coalitions, in the mid-1990s, saw the potential for an interconnected web of content, development and delivery platforms (the Web of today), along with the need to promote quality in the materials being developed. Pamela A. Eibeck and Jeffrey C. Huston led the “Quality Review of Courseware Committee” to identify characteristics of high-quality courseware and recommended a three-tier quality system. At the base was un-reviewed courseware rising through peer-reviewed courseware all the way to the best of the best. The Synthesis and SUCCEED Coalitions launched the Premier Award in 1997, with founding sponsor John Wiley & Sons, to recognize the top tier of “courseware designed to enhance engineering education.” The first years of the Premier Award were lead by editors Professor Pamela A. Eibeck and Professor Joseph G. Tront from the Synthesis and SUCCEED Coalitions, respectively. Professor Joseph G. Tront continues as the editor of the Premier Award.
Evolution and into the Future
The Premier Award and the review criteria have evolved over time. After each year’s competition, the steering committee reviews both the process and review criteria and updates them as needed.
Not surprisingly, the first few years of the Premier Award saw the biggest change in the submission process, eligibility criteria and review criteria. Recent years have brought a focus in the criteria on learning objectives (paralleling their rise across all aspects of engineering education). The submission process continues to be an important tool in helping submitters identify key aspects of the use of their materials—how do students use the courseware, what do potential faculty adopters/adapters need to consider when using the courseware, and what evidence is their on improvements in student learning.
As the Premier Award moves forward, the steering committee continues to refine and improve the process.
The Premier Award has been made possible by our corporate sponsors, including founding sponsor John Wiley & Sons.
The Premier Award review process and criteria is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. DUE-0938117, DUE-0532922, EEC-9872570, IIS-9847106, EEC-9625456 and EEC-9053807. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.