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Global Engineering Programs: Identifying and Supporting a Diverse Array of Learning Outcomes

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Globalizing Engineering Education II: Best Practices

Tagged Topic

ASEE Global Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.749.1 - 22.749.19



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Paper Authors


Nathan McNeill University of Florida, Gainesville

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Nathan McNeill is a post doctoral associate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Florida where he is studying the factors that contribute to success in open-ended problem solving. He has a Ph.D. in engineering education from Purdue University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in engineering from Walla Walla University.

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Monica Farmer Cox Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Monica F. Cox, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She obtained a B.S. in mathematics from Spelman College, a M.S. in industrial
engineering from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy Studies from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Teaching interests relate to the professional development of graduate engineering students and to leadership, policy, and change in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Primary research projects explore the preparation of engineering doctoral students for careers in academia and industry and the development of engineering education assessment tools. She is a NSF Faculty Early Career (CAREER) award winner and is a recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

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Global Engineering Programs: Mapping and Supporting Diverse Learning OutcomesAbstractEngineers in both industry and academia recognize the global nature of the engineeringprofession. This has lead to calls for engineering students to develop knowledge, skills, andattitudes necessary for success within a global profession. Many institutions are developingglobally oriented programs specifically for their engineering students and are eager to know ifthese programs are helping their students to develop attributes that meet various programobjectives, accreditation requirements, and the needs and desires of prospective employers.Administrators of such programs currently lack research data to support the learning objectivesthey are setting for their programs.This paper presents select results from a qualitative study that documented the individualexperiences and learning outcomes of students involved in three different global engineeringprograms. The first program provided a portfolio of experiences including foreign languageinstruction, one semester of study abroad, internships in the U.S. and abroad, and a two-semesterglobal team design project. The second program was a one semester study abroad program inChina, and the third was a global service project whose purpose was to design an irrigationsystem for two small farms in Rwanda. Interviews were used to elicit the learning outcomes ofparticipants in these three programs. For the purpose of triangulation, program administratorswere also interviewed about their perspectives on the learning outcomes of participants.Thematic analysis was used to identify the learning outcomes of participants in these programs.The study identified more than 50 outcomes that resulted from students’ experiences in thesethree programs. The most prevalent outcomes across all three programs included knowledge ofculture, openness to new experiences and other cultures, and communication skills. This studyalso found that learning outcomes varied between programs as well as between individualparticipants. Many participants, for example, joined programs having their own personalobjectives and expectations for outcomes. In light of these findings, the paper concludes withtwo recommendations. First, it highlights the need for programs to set and communicate clearlearning objectives. Second, it discusses how global engineering program administrators shouldlook beyond current assessment strategies, which typically focus on broad outcomes such asintercultural competence. In particular, a framework for intentional and structured reflection ispresented as a desirable strategy that can help support assessment goals and student learning.

McNeill, N., & Cox, M. F. (2011, June), Global Engineering Programs: Identifying and Supporting a Diverse Array of Learning Outcomes Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18030

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