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A Tool To Measure Adaptive Expertise In Biomedical Engineering Students

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.120.1 - 6.120.15



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Penelope Peterson

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2793

A Tool to Measure Adaptive Expertise in Biomedical Engineering Students

Frank T. Fisher, Penelope L. Peterson Department of Mechanical Engineering / School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208


While engineering programs must continue to cover the maximum breadth and depth of content information possible, these programs can also take an active role in encouraging and fostering additional dispositions to help their graduates adapt to their professional career. We define an adaptive expert as an individual who possesses the content knowledge of an expert, but who in addition displays specific cognitive dispositions that augment and enhance their ability to effectively utilize and extend their content knowledge. We have identified four main constructs (multiple perspectives, metacognition, goals and beliefs, and epistemology) which form the foundation of adaptive expertise. We report on a survey developed to measure these qualities of adaptiveness in three target engineering populations (freshmen, senior, and faculty). We also present preliminary interview data conducted in conjunction with the survey to provide insight as to how this adaptiveness is manifest in undergraduate engineering students.


According to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Engineering Criteria 2000, “engineering programs must be designed to prepare graduates for the practice of engineering at a professional level”1. This statement can be interpreted as requiring more than simply imparting in students a basic understanding of content knowledge in a particular domain. As technology continues to advance rapidly it will become more difficult to equip engineering undergraduates with the knowledge and skills required in the workplace. Thus, while engineering programs must continue to cover as much content knowledge as possible, engineering programs must also take an active role in developing the abilities of their graduates to successfully apply and extend the content knowledge that they have learned in their schooling.

In 1998, the National Science Foundation (NSF) convened focus groups consisting of employers (both technology and non-technology related), students, graduates, and parents to discuss undergraduate education in science, math, engineering, and technology (SME&T)2. The NSF found that employers were generally satisfied with the depth of SME&T programs, but typically favored more breadth of coverage. They found that employers were seeking individuals with good problem- solving and leadership skills, who take initiative, and who are capable of independent and self- motivated learning, and they typically found SME&T graduates to be unprepared in these domains. Specifically, employers stressed the importance of employees taking the responsibility to learn what

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Peterson, P., & Fisher, F. (2001, June), A Tool To Measure Adaptive Expertise In Biomedical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9908

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