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An Analysis Of Literature Of The Development Of Leadership Skills In Engineering And Related Doctoral Programs

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Innovation and Measuring Success in Graduate Education

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.138.1 - 15.138.11

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Paper Authors

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Joy Watson University of South Carolina

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Jed Lyons University of South Carolina

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

An Analysis of Literature of the Development of Leadership Skills in Engineering and Related Doctoral Programs

Abstract It has been stated that engineering Ph.D. graduates do not have the leadership skills needed to organize, manage and establish effective research groups or to appreciate the applied problems, knowledge and culture of other fields1. The objective of this study is to investigate and document the instructional strategies to both develop and assess leadership skills of engineering doctoral students. A literature review was conducted that examined approximately forty papers on this subject. This paper presents a critical analysis of the literature on this subject, and suggests directions for future research.

Introduction The objective of this paper is to investigate the instructional strategies for developing and assessing leadership skills of engineering doctoral students. Within six years of obtaining a Ph.D., 80% of graduates will not hold tenure track positions in academia. Many of these graduates take positions in the for-profit business sector (industry) according to NSF Science and Engineering Indicators2. Currently, industry states that Ph.D.s do not have the leadership skills to organize, manage and establish effective teams of researchers that outperform their competition while appreciating the applied problems, knowledge and culture of other fields1, 3. Leadership skills, like many other skills, are gained through training and mentoring4. Several different instructional strategies have been developed to integrate the technical knowledge and leadership skills that industry desires in its Ph.D.s. This paper is a critical analysis of various instructional strategies and will address the following questions: ≠ How are leadership skills defined? ≠ What are the different instructional strategies for developing leadership and what are their strengths and weaknesses? ≠ How are leadership skills measured or assessed? ≠ What direction should be pursued in future research?

Methodology A literature search and review was performed to address the research questions. The literature search was conducted using Web of Science, ERIC and Business Source Premier databases. Numerous search strings were entered to find relevant papers. For instance, the search string: TS=((scien* or chemi* or physics or engineer* or math* or industr*) and (grad* or graduate or master or doctoral or phd or ph.d. or doctor*) and (leadership) and (teach* or learn* or skill*)) was used in a Web of Science search that provided the authors with 140 relevant papers. A large collection of papers was examined in order to develop working definitions of leadership skills. These definitions were derived primarily from a series of articles discussing industrial employers’ desired knowledge, assets and skills of employees, e.g. Sekhon5 and Sodhi6. After leadership was defined, additional literature was reviewed to determine current instructional and assessment strategies for developing leadership skills among engineering students, particularly engineering graduate students.

Watson, J., & Lyons, J. (2010, June), An Analysis Of Literature Of The Development Of Leadership Skills In Engineering And Related Doctoral Programs Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky.

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