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Engineering, Reflection And Life Long Learning

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

New Learning Paradigms I

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.499.1 - 15.499.19



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Paper Authors


Nora Siewiorek University of Pittsburgh

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Nora Siewiorek is a graduate student in the Administrative and Policy Studies department in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh where she also received her MS in Information Science. Her research interests include: engineering education and educational assessment and evaluation. Her K-12 outreach activities are organizing a local science fair and a hands on workshop in nanotechnology. Her other research interests are: higher education administration, comparative and international education.

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Larry Shuman University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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Larry J. Shuman is Senior Associate Dean for Academics and Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on improving the engineering educational experience with an emphasis on assessment of design and problem solving, and the study of the ethical behavior of engineers and engineering managers. A former senior editor of the Journal of Engineering Education, Dr. Shuman is the founding editor of Advances in Engineering Education. He has published widely in the engineering education literature, and is co-author of Engineering Ethics: Balancing Cost, Schedule and Risk - Lessons Learned from the Space Shuttle (Cambridge University Press). He received his Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University in Operations Research and the BSEE from the University of Cincinnati. He is an ASEE Fellow.

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Mary Besterfield-Sacre University of Pittsburgh

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Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Associate Professor and Fulton C. Noss Faculty Fellow in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Center Associate for the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Sacre’s principal research interests are in engineering education assessment and evaluation methods. She has served as an associate editor for the Journal of Engineering Education and is currently associate editor for the Applications in Engineering Education Journal. She received her B.S. in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri - Rolla, her M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Kara Santelli University of Pittsburgh

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Kara Santelli is a masters student in Administrative and Policy Studies Department at the University of Pittsburgh. She will be receiving her Master of Education degree in May 2010. Her focus is in education and social policy research particularly policies related to the Black-White Achievement Gap and the resegregation of American public schools. In addition to being a student and researcher, she is the Swim School Director and Swim Coach for the Woodland Hills Aquatics Team.

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

Engineering, Reflection and Life Long Learning


Reflection skills have been used in various academic fields to bring self awareness into what has been learned from an exercise. We propose that if an engineering student is aware of the information he or she currently knows as well as what remains to be learned, then that student should possess the ability to more efficiently make the necessary assumptions and gather the appropriated information in order to solve the problem at hand.

Our general premise is that by engaging in active and repeated reflection exercises, undergraduate engineering students will develop stronger reflective judgment skills; and hence, we would anticipate that these students will show initial signs of becoming Schon’s reflective practitioner1 or achieve higher levels of King and Kitchener’s reflective judgment scale2. That is, our engineering students will better recognize in the broadest sense the various stakeholders, and how their engineering decisions will impact them, in both the short and long terms.

Here we have studied undergraduate industrial engineering student teams resolving Model Eliciting Activities (MEAs). After completing each MEA, each student was then given a reflection tool (RT) requiring him or her to address several of the ABET professional skills. The students’ reflection responses coupled with the MEA graded group solutions provided a data set for analysis. Student data was coded to determine the quantity of concepts learned, as well as the depth and quality of reflection. From here, based on King and Kitchener’s Reflective Judgment Model, students were categorized into: pre-reflective thinking, quasi-reflective thinking or reflective thinking groups. These categories were then compared with the grades on the MEAs.

I. Introduction

The engineering profession continues to diversify in complexity, location and types of problems as it addresses the major issues impacting society, such as those delineated in the NAE Grand Challenges ( Consequently, it is not possible for engineering students to fully learn all the theory and skills that they will need upon graduation. This is one reason for ABET outcome criteria 3(i) – “life long learning,” and why it is becoming increasingly important. We suggest that reflection is one such method that helps to foster life long learning.

Engineering students are expected to make significant progress in learning content knowledge as they go from novices (freshmen) to young practitioners during the process of earning their B.S. degrees. During this time undergraduate engineers begin to refine their problem solving skills and learn to view posed and real problems more effectively and holistically. This growth process

Siewiorek, N., & Shuman, L., & Besterfield-Sacre, M., & Santelli, K. (2010, June), Engineering, Reflection And Life Long Learning Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16615

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