June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Educational Research and Methods
23.857.1 - 23.857.46
Learning Strategies and Learning Traits Critical to Practicing Engineers after CollegeLifelong learning is not only a mantra of the National Academy of Engineering but also a keyaspect of the lives of practicing engineers. A series of exploratory interviews on engineeringlearning were conducted with IRB approval in 2011 and 2012 with successful practicingengineers who have 20 or more years of engineering experience. Interview data was collectedfrom a convenience sample of successful practicing engineers who are all graduates of a largeMidwestern engineering college and working for very large manufacturing or consultingcompanies. The exploratory research goal was to better understand how practicing engineerscontinue to learn after their “formal” schooling comes to a close.Our phenomenological analysis corroborates that informal learning on the job is the most criticalaspect of engineering learning. Further our analysis suggests that engineering learning ofpracticing engineers is primarily self-driven and collaborative. Learning experiences related tobeing mentored or mentoring others are additional factors which have strong influence in thelearning of practicing engineers. Successful practicing engineers continually build theirknowledge and skill throughout their careers and are inquisitive and passionate people regardingtheir work and discipline. Successful practicing engineers are also thirsty for new knowledge, gooutside their contexts to learn about new models, products and processes, volunteer for tasksother engineers avoid and actively seek and seek mentors to help them advance and learn. Learning can and does happen across many contexts and throughout individuals' lives. Inindustry our findings suggest that successful practicing engineers not only continue to developtheir technical skills they also develop or expand upon their human and organization skills.A key learning and organizational skill is the use of mentors and becoming a mentor to others.Some organizations formalize this mentoring process while others leave mentoring up toindividual initiatives. In particular mentors impact the value of the advice or direction theyprovide to their mentees by the nature of their mentoring; is it active or passive mentoring?,mentoring on technical or professional information or both?Our paper will identify the most critical learning strategies of successful practicing engineers andthe learning traits most supportive of the continuous learning that successful practicing engineersexhibit. The learning strategies deemed most important by our participants and the learning traitsmost likely to have contributed to their success in their careers as practicing engineers will beidentified. These findings have implications for both engineering curriculum and engineeringmanagement practices.
Ferguson, D. M., & Cawthorne, J. E., & Schimpf, C. T., & Cardella, M. E. (2013, June), Learning Strategies and Learning Traits Critical to Practicing Engineers after College Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19871
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