Asee peer logo

Engineering Students' Readiness For Self Directed Learning

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Assessing Teaching & Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.558.1 - 9.558.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Sang Ha Lee

author page

John Wise

author page

Thomas Litzinger

Download Paper |

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

Session 3530

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. 10.18260/1-2--13902

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015