June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus recognized that change is the only constant, asserting that change is central to the universe. We now live in a time where change is not only constant, but rapid and often disruptive, bringing with it a high level of uncertainty for the future. To prepare students for this future of rapid change, it’s important to consider the development of our students as highly skillful and knowledgeable in their chosen field AND as individuals with the competencies needed to manage uncertainty and change and to enter the post-graduate world as participants and contributors. This requires that our students build their own self-concept, learn to develop meaningful and rewarding relationships, and mature their capacity for deep learning.
In the Pavlis Honors College at Michigan Technological University, we have developed an educational framework based in psychologist Robert Kegan’s theory of adult development  to provide students with a foundation in the competencies needed to advance their ability to become flexible professionals, and also balance their knowledge across the technical and social worlds. Kegan’s theory suggests that as individuals mature, they encounter disorienting dilemmas that cause them to question their world view. With sufficient support through these challenges, individuals develop their own sense of self rather than depending on external authorities to define who they are. They begin to shift their perspective from simply reacting to the world around them, to examining themselves as objects operating within the world with autonomy and self-determination. Kegan categorizes this development shift from adolescence to adult as a shift from the socialized mind to the self-authoring mind. It is exactly this internal definition or self-authorship that provides individuals with the capacity to manage complexity, uncertainty and change—the world our students are entering. Typically, this shift to becoming self-authored occurs after graduation , however, given an appropriately designed learning environment , students can advance their capacity for self-authorship in their undergraduate years.
In this paper, we share an educational framework built on the theories of adult development self-authorship and self-determination, as well as our curriculum which is designed to build capacity for self-authorship in our students. We will outline the innovations that this has introduced to our program including creating an honors program that does not use GPA or standardized test scores for admission or retention. We will share our rubric for assessment of self-authorship using reflection assignments and offer case studies of engineering students who reveal increasing levels of self-authorship capacity and preparation as flexible professionals, ready to enter the rapidly changing world and engineering work force.
 Kegan, R. (1994). In over our heads: The mental demands of modern life. Harvard University Press.  Magolda, M. B. B. (2008). Three elements of self-authorship. Journal of College Student Development, 49(4), 269-284.  Magolda, M. B. B., & King, P. M. (2004). Learning partnerships: Theory and models of practice to educate for self-authorship. Stylus Publishing, LLC.
Fiss, L. K., & Meadows, L. A., & Raber, M., & Henquinet, K. B., & Berkey, R. J. (2019, June), An Educational Framework to Promote Self-Authorship in Engineering Undergraduates Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32058
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