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Assessing Readiness For Self Directed Learning

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Understanding Students: Cognition

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.240.1 - 8.240.10



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Paper Authors

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Sang Ha Lee

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Stefani A. Bjorklund

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John Wise

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Thomas Litzinger

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

Session 1330

Assessing Readiness for Self-directed Learning

Thomas Litzinger, John Wise, SangHa Lee, and Stefani Bjorklund

Penn State University


The ABET engineering accreditation criteria bring lifelong learning to the forefront for all engineering educators. In the past, our role in lifelong learning was primarily offering courses and degree programs for practicing engineers through continuing education and on our campuses. Now the accreditation criteria demand that we prepare engineering students to engage in lifelong learning. While this level of emphasis on preparing students for lifelong learning is new, the significance attached to lifelong learning, and in particular continuing education, within the engineering profession is not.

Lifelong learning in engineering has been recognized as critical for decades. The Final Report of the Goals Committee on Engineering Education, written in 1968, contained a discussion of the importance of lifelong learning.1 In 1978, the theme of the ASEE Annual Conference was “Career Management – Lifelong Learning.” Over the years there have been a number of studies to investigate the types of activities involved in lifelong learning, their frequency of use, the types of support systems required for lifelong learning, barriers to lifelong learning, and impact of lifelong learning for individual engineers. Many of these studies are summarized in a 1985 report by an NRC panel. 2

Lifelong learning is an issue of importance for engineers around the world. UNESCO sponsored several significant studies including “Advances in the continuing education of engineers.”3 The report resulting from this study summarizes practices in continuing education in a number of countries, both developed and developing, and also the delivery systems used. UNESCO played a central role in the formation of the International Society for Continuing Engineering Education in 1986.

Clearly, however, lifelong learning occurs through more channels than just continuing education. In 1986, Cervero et al. interviewed nearly 500 engineers by telephone in the area of Rockport, IL.4 Seventy-two percent of the engineers surveyed were at the BS level and more than one half were under the age of 35. Due to the nature of the businesses in the area, the sample contained predominantly mechanical engineers, 53%, with electrical engineers accounting for an additional 22%. The survey was structured to investigate the participation of the engineers in the three modes of learning proposed by Houle5: instruction, inquiry, and performance. Cervero et al. summarize these three modes of learning as follows:

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Lee, S. H., & Bjorklund, S. A., & Wise, J., & Litzinger, T. (2003, June), Assessing Readiness For Self Directed Learning Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11630

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