June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.177.1 - 13.177.11
An Evaluation of Workforce Presentation Instruction in Industrial Engineering Capstone Design
For the past several years, workforce communication instruction has been integrated into Industrial Engineering (IE) Capstone Design courses at Georgia Tech. The instruction is based on actual interviews with practicing IEs, managers, and senior executives. Evaluation data from a new cohort which expands results previously reported are now available. Included in the instruction are 1) a tutorial, 2) a number of sessions for practice and feedback on the workforce presentation skills in a Workforce Communication Lab, and 3) a senior executive panel discussion on communication skills needed to move up the career ladder. The evaluation criteria include student-perceived confidence and competence. Also described are data on student needs reported at the beginning of the course and student benefits reported at the end of the course. The results provide substantial evidence that the instruction in workforce presentation skills is effective in the eyes of students
Over the past decade, multiple studies have indicated the need for better communication skills for engineers [1-5]. Studies have also identified, more specifically, the importance of oral presentation skills to the advancement of engineers in the workplace [6, 7]. As recently as 2007, students’ definitions of excellence in engineering education included communication skills .
In 2004, one study reported that, of 73 top-ranked U.S. and Canadian engineering schools surveyed about communication instruction for engineers, 33 percent reported integrating instruction “in which communication specialists and engineering professors collaborate” . Many schools have integrated the instruction with the Capstone Design course [10-14].
In this study, communication instruction focused on presentation skills has been integrated into the Stewart School of ISyE at Georgia Tech Capstone Design course since 2002. The course involves student teams working on real-life design projects with for-profit corporations, non-profits, health care organizations and government agencies. Students give six presentations during the course. The proposal presentation, interim presentation, and final presentation are each given to the Faculty Committee and class and to the client.
The presentation instruction is unique in its stress on information about communication collected directly from people in the workforce: practicing industrial engineers, managers, and senior executives of organizations employing many IEs. The interview process is described in detail elsewhere [16-18]. The instruction is referred to as workforce presentation instruction because it focuses on a subset of the skills identified through the interviews. These presentation skills were described as being central to graduates’ job competitiveness and quick ascent up the career ladder. The skills included in the instruction are shown in Table 1.
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