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Andragogical Learning Characteristics in Second-year and Fourth-year Mechanical Engineering Students

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Gregory Martin Freisinger U.S. Military Academy

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Greg Freisinger is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy from The Ohio State University. Greg was an Army engineer officer prior to graduate school, with experience in combat and construction military engineering. His research is primarily focused on biomechanical factors associated with injury and performance.

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Richard Melnyk U.S. Military Academy Orcid 16x16

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COL Rich Melnyk is an Army Aviator and Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point. He developed and implemented the first course offering of Thermal-Fluid Systems I in 2005. He was an Instructor and Assistant Professor from 2004-2007 and returned to teaching in 2015. He has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, a PE in Mechanical Engineering, an MBA in Technology Management and recently commanded a Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia.

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Brian J. Novoselich U.S. Military Academy

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Brian Novoselich is an active duty Army Lieutenant Colonel, serving as the Director of the Center for Innovation and Engineering at West Point. He holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech and both Master's and Bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and West Point respectively. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include innovation, design teaching assessment, engineering leadership, and social network analysis. He teaches Mechanical Systems Design, Thermal-Fluid Systems, Vehicle Dynamics, Combustion, and Vibrations. He is also a licensed professional engineer.

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According to the ABET, the goal of an undergraduate mechanical engineering program is to prepare students to work professionally in the fields of thermal and mechanical systems. As a part of the accreditation process, ABET requires programs to demonstrate how their students are able to acquire knowledge as lifelong learners. Employers are interested in new graduates with the ability to think critically and work independently, which aligns well with adult learner characteristics often referred to as andragogy. Previous work on an examination of stakeholder documents and the purpose statements of undergraduate institutions also portray a desire to create graduates with an andragogical mindset. Pembridge (2014) developed a pilot instrument to measure andragogical constructs utilizing different instruments directly measuring the theoretical frameworks supporting assumptions of adult learning, while also comparing responses from first-year and fourth-year engineering students. He found significant differences between the two year groups of engineering students, with senior students having improved ability at self-directed learning and a stronger sense of adulthood. It is unknown how these results apply to a cadet population, where increased structure and additional military training may influence learning characteristics.

The purpose of this research is to investigate the learning characteristics of United States MIlitary Academy cadets enrolled in the mechanical engineering major. We surveyed students in a second year design course and a fourth year capstone design course to better understand the progression from a pedagogical to an andragogical learning orientation. Survey data was collected from n = 58 (out of 85 total enrolled) second-year and n = 62 (out of 99 total enrolled) fourth-year mechanical engineering students. The survey used was a slightly modified version from Pembridge 2014, which drew upon previous instruments aligned with assumptions of andragogy. This survey provides insight in Self-Directed Learning Dimensions Scale (SDLAS), Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA), Epistemological Beliefs Assessment for Engineering (EBAE), Engineering Expectancy and Value Scale (EV), and Engineering Design Self-Efficacy. The results of this study contrast the andragogical orientations of second- and fourth-year students at the United States Military Academy. The results of this work allow engineering educators to better understand the current learning states of their students by expanding the contexts within which andragogical learning assumptions are applied. As a result, faculty may be more informed in curriculum decisions to fit the preponderant learning orientation. This work also allows engineering educators to identify strategies to better align undergraduate engineering students with the adult learning characteristics required in professional practice.

Freisinger, G. M., & Melnyk, R., & Novoselich, B. J. (2018, June), Andragogical Learning Characteristics in Second-year and Fourth-year Mechanical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29804

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