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Assessing the Impact of an Industry-led Professional Development Workshop on the 21st Century 'Soft' Skills of CM Students at an HBCU

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Construction 3: Beyond the Academy: Leveraging Partnerships, Internships, and Outreach

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Paper Authors


Andrea Nana Ofori-Boadu North Carolina A&T State University Orcid 16x16

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Andrea Nana Ofori-Boadu, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Construction Management
Department of Built Environment,
College of Science and Technology
North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Address: 112-A Price Hall
1601 E. Market Street
Greensboro, NC 27411
Phone: 336-285-3128

Dr. Andrea Ofori-Boadu is an Assistant Professor of Construction Management (CM) with the Department of Built Environment at North Carolina A & T State University. She has a Ph.D. in Technology Management, an M.Sc. in Industrial Technology, and a B.Sc. in Building Technology. Dr. Ofori-Boadu has over 20 years of relevant academic and industry experience. Her current research interests are in sustainability, bio-modified cements, and STEM education.

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Musibau Adeola Shofoluwe North Carolina A&T State University

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Musibau Shofoluwe is a Professor of Construction Management and Safety in the Department of Built Environment at North Carolina A&T State University. He also serves as NCA&T Coordinator (and Faculty member) of the Indiana State University Consortium PhD in Technology Management program as well as the Graduate Coordinator for the Master of Science in Technology Management - Professional Science Master’s (PSM) concentration in Construction Science and Management. With over 30 years of teaching and industry experience, Prof. Shofoluwe’s areas of teaching and research expertise include sustainable construction practices, construction project management, construction contracts administration, construction safety and risk management. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology (Building Construction) from NCA&T State University, a Master’s degree in Technology (Construction Management) from Pittsburg State University, and a Doctorate of Industrial Technology (Construction Management) from the University of Northern Iowa.

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Rico Kelley Jr. North Carolina A&T State University

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Born on 26 January, 1993 in Athens GA, Kelley graduated from Clarke Central High School in 2011. In fall 2011, Kelley enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. He studied Civil Engineering in the College of Engineering for three years before transferring to the College of Science and Technology. Since spring 2016, he has been conducting research within the Department of Built Environment.

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Evelyn R. Sowells North Carolina A&T State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Evelyn R. Sowells is an assistant professor in the Computer Systems Technology department at North Carolina A&T State University’s School of Technology. Prior to joining the School of Technology faculty, she held position at U.S. Department of Energy, N.C. A&T’s Division of Research and College of Engineering. Dr. Sowells earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University’s College of Engineering. She also holds a M.S. and B.S in Computer Science with a concentration in software engineering from the same university. Her primary research interests are in the areas of low-power high performance digital systems design, asynchronous design, self-timed digital system design and STEM education. As a result of her work, she has numerous peer reviewed journal and conference publications. She recently authored a book entitled “Low Power Self-Timed Size Optimization for an Input Data Distribution,” which explores innovative techniques to reduce power consumption for portable electronic devices. She was recently awarded the 2016 Chair’s award for Rookie Researcher of the year in the Computer System Technology department. Dr. Sowells is the lead investigator of the Females in Technology (FiT) summer boot camp grant project for academically gifted low income rising senior and junior high girls for recruitment into the technology degree areas. She is also the co-PI of the Aggie STEM Minority Male Maker grant project focused on early exposure to technology to stimulate interest in technology of middle school minority males. Evelyn is not only outstanding in teaching and research, but also in service. She recently received the 2013 Chair’s Award for Outstanding Service in the Department of Computer System Technology and is a member of Upsilon Phi Epsilon, Computer Science Honor Society, American Society of Engineering Education’s Electronic Technology and Women in Engineering Divisions, and American Association of University Women.

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Robert B. Pyle North Carolina A&T State University

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Dr. Pyle is a full professor and chairperson of the Department of Construction Management, Occupational Safety & Health and Geomatics and has been a project director of numerous federal and state projects in the School of Technology. He is a Certified Constructor with 25 years of experience in residential construction and 10 years of experience with manufactured and modular housing both in the classroom and field. He has directed projects dealing with weatherization, energy, construction practices and improvement of housing for low income residents in several parts of North Carolina. His education degrees are BA and MA from The College of New Jersey and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Pyle has received awards for outstanding leadership, teaching and named the researcher of the year in 2005 for the School of Technology. Recently, he has been rated by his peers as an outstanding professor in the School of Technology.

Dr. Pyle has performed exceptionally well both as a programmatic coordinator and manager and has received wide acclaims at the local and national level. In 1998, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s HUD project which he was the PI was requested by SEEDCO to present at its annual “HBCU Community Development Partnership for the Future” and its success was displayed at SEEDCO’s 1999 conference. Furthermore, the HUD Telecommunications Grant directed by Dr. Pyle won the HUD’s 2000 Best Practice Award at the state level. With 30 years of working with the city residents and local agencies, he is knowledgeable of HUD requirements at the University, city, county and state levels.

Dr. Pyle headed the Leadership and Community Development Research Cluster for several years at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. His experience and expertise has been invaluable to the University in acquiring numerous grants over the past 20 years. He is a Certified Professional Constructor, member of the American Institute of Contractors and is nationally certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI).

His areas of research include energy efficiency and management, safety at heights, indoor air quality, residential construction processes and manufactured housing techniques.

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Increasingly employers are demanding that Construction Management (CM) graduates demonstrate strong 21st century ‘soft’ skills to enhance their effectiveness as CM professionals. Consequently, higher-education institutions and their industry partners are aggressively exploring strategies that can be implemented to improve students’ soft skills prior to their graduation and transition into professional roles. In collaboration with an industry partner, a four-week Professional Development Workshop (PDW) is implemented for CM students at an HBCU. The objective was to engage CM students in activities that would improve their soft skills and their career readiness.

The purpose of this research is to assess the impact of the industry-led PDW on the 21st century ‘soft’ skills of CM students at an HBCU. For research purposes, these skills were grouped into seven categories: Intellectual Excellence; Communication; Ethics and Professionalism; Self-Efficacy; Teamwork; Career Readiness; and Civic Responsibility. Self-reported pre and post surveys, as well as observations during the PDW are used to obtain data for statistical analysis. Preliminary results from the pre-surveys showed that CM students assign the highest levels of importance to Ethics and Professionalism, Communication, and Intellectual Excellence, while Career Readiness and Civic Responsibility were deemed least important. Preliminary observations indicate that the PDW has had an impact of students’ perceptions of 21st century ‘soft’ skills.

Results should help CM faculty members and program developers better understand CM students’ perceptions of 21st century skills, and how PDWs can be effective in strengthening these skills. Best practices and lessons learnt from the implementation of the PDW will be discussed to facilitate its replication at other higher education institutions, particularly HBCUs. In the long term, CM programs with the capacity to improve students’ soft skills will produce graduates who are better equipped to meet the demands of their employers.

Ofori-Boadu, A. N., & Shofoluwe, M. A., & Kelley, R., & Sowells, E. R., & Pyle, R. B. (2017, June), Assessing the Impact of an Industry-led Professional Development Workshop on the 21st Century 'Soft' Skills of CM Students at an HBCU Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27625

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