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Enabling The U.S. Engineering Work Force For Technological Innovation: The Role Of Interactive Learning Among Working Professionals

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Conference

2007 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Professional Graduate Education & Industry

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count

8

Page Numbers

12.604.1 - 12.604.8

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/1649

Download Count

24

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Paper Authors

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Mark Schuver Purdue University

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MARK T. SCHUVER is director of the Rolls-Royce-Purdue Master’s degree program, Purdue University.

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Mark Smith Rochester Institute of Technology

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MARK SMITH is director, product development & manufacturing leadership, Rochester Institute of Technology.

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Duane Dunlap Western Carolina University

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DUANE D. DUNLAP is professor, interim dean, Kimmel School, Western Carolina University, and
program chair ASEE-Graduate Studies Division.

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Donald Keating University of South Carolina

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DONALD A. KEATING is associate professor of mechanical engineering, University of South Carolina, and chair ASEE-Graduate Studies Division.

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Thomas Stanford University of South Carolina

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THOMAS G. STANFORD is assistant professor of chemical engineering, University of South Carolina.

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Joseph Tidwell Boeing Co.

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JOSEPH P. TIDWELL is director of JACMET, Arizona State University Polytechnic, and chair ASEE-College Industry Partnership Division.

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

Enabling the U.S. Engineering Workforce for Technological Innovation: The Value of Cohort Learning

Abstract

This is the second of four invited papers prepared for a special panel session of the National Collaborative Task Force on Engineering Graduate Education Reform to enable a strong U.S. engineering workforce for competitiveness and national security. There has been a significant increase in educational opportunities for the working professional, as employees and their companies have recognized the criticality of continuous learning to sustaining economic growth and prosperity in a highly competitive global economy. To meet the needs of a demanding and highly diverse constituency, educators have experimented with a wide range of program formats, modalities, and pedagogy in an effort to insure a high quality learning experience in the face of significant career obligations. This paper focuses on the benefits of employing a cohort-based learning model for practicing engineers and all professionals who wish to develop their technical and innovative skills. It will highlight the experiences of two graduate programs that are structured around a cohort model but have adopted different delivery strategies, to provide an illustration of how institutions can tailor the cohort model to meet the needs of its key stakeholders.

Introduction

Unlike undergraduate education which emphasizes knowledge transfer from teacher to student in preparation for entry into a profession, graduate education for experienced professionals must leverage students as valuable sources of knowledge and wisdom if these programs are to realize their full potential. The mere presence of experienced professionals in the classroom is no guarantee of a high quality interactive learning environment; instead, strategies and practices must by put in place to create an environment that fosters collaborative knowledge sharing. The use of cohort groups is one such strategy.

A “cohort” has been defined as a group of students who enroll at the same time and take courses at the same time for the duration of their educational tenure [1]. Beyond the structural implications of this definition, Drago-Severson [2] refers to a cohort as a “tight-knit, reliable, common-purpose group.” A cohort can also be thought of as a simple form of a “learning community,” a programmatic effort to create an academic and social community for students and instructors [3,4]. Learning communities and, by extension, cohorts aspire to provide an interactive and interdisciplinary environment to help students think differently and in more complex ways by providing exposure to diverse viewpoints and experiences [5]. In short, learning communities and cohorts are intended to promote collaborative learning, critical reflection, and knowledge creation for a higher quality educational experience.

Many benefits have been ascribed to the use of cohort groups (or learning communities) in academia. High levels of collaborative knowledge sharing critical to innovation have been shown to correlate strongly with the existence of social networks, which is a common attribute of cohort groups [6,7]. Students in learning communities were found to generate more ideas and to think in

Schuver, M., & Smith, M., & Dunlap, D., & Keating, D., & Stanford, T., & Tidwell, J. (2007, June), Enabling The U.S. Engineering Work Force For Technological Innovation: The Role Of Interactive Learning Among Working Professionals Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1649

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