New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Beyond knowledge and cognitive learning outcomes, engineering education should achieve affective outcomes. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has articulated attitudes that are supportive of the professional practice of engineering. This research explored the extent to which engineering students believed that various attitudes were characteristic of both engineers and themselves. Three groups participated in the study: (1) ~120 first year civil, environmental, and architectural engineering students; (2) 18 senior civil engineering students; and (3) 21 students at the end of their junior year of college (in 7 different engineering majors, attending 5 different institutions). Students in all of the groups were presented with a list of 18 attitudes and asked to indicate which five were the most representative of engineers and then which five were most representative of themselves; groups 1 and 2 answered this question as part of a written survey in fall 2015 while group 3 answered the question as part of interviews in spring 2015. The interview participants explained why they ascribed particular attributes to engineers or themselves. Chi-square tests were used to determine if there were differences in the attitudes identified by students as representative of engineers versus personally (95% confidence). The traits most commonly associated with engineers (by 62-49% of the students) were: thoroughness, commitment, curiosity, persistence, and high expectations. The traits least commonly associated with engineers (by only 4-12% of the students) were: sensitivity, empathy, fairness, tolerance, and positivity. There were not significant differences in the attitudes identified for engineers based on the gender, major, or rank of the students. The traits most commonly attributed to themselves (by 52-41% of the students) were: curiosity, respect, commitment, and consideration of others. Differences between the frequency that a trait was attributed to engineers versus personally were found for 10 of the 18 attitudes. On average, students selected two of the same traits for both themselves and engineers. There were some demographic differences in the attitudes that students selected as personally representative. Future work will determine if those with particular personal attitudes and/or perceptions of engineers’ attitudes have differential retention in engineering.
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