Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.558.1 - 9.558.11
Engineering Students’ Readiness for Self-directed Learning
Thomas Litzinger, Sang Ha Lee, and John Wise
Penn State University
The study summarized in this paper extends the previous work of the authors that attempted to determine whether capstone engineering courses have an effect on readiness for self-directed learning. The previous study suffered from a poor participation rate and several other potential problems. A new experimental design eliminated these problems. Pre-test and post-test data were collected in two sections of a capstone course in Mechanical Engineering. Results show no statistically significant change in the average pre-test and post-test scores; however, a fraction of the students were found to experience significant increases and decreases. A regression analysis was conducted in an attempt to understand the effect of the characteristics of the students such as gender and grade point average as well as project and section; however, no statistically significant correlation between the change in SDLRS score and any of these factors were found. Interviews with instructors were also conducted and suggested that the decreases in the scores for one project were likely due to the nature of the interactions of the project mentor with the students. Implications of the results of this study for curricular design are discussed.
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
Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education
Lee, S. H., & Wise, J., & Litzinger, T. (2004, June), Engineering Students' Readiness For Self Directed Learning Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13902
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