New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Design in Engineering Education
With global competitiveness, outsourcing, and an increase in production of overseas engineers, undergraduate engineering programs in the United States are increasingly under pressure to better prepare students for this evolving workforce. With the rapid pace of technological change, the environment that future engineers will face will require the ability to adapt quickly and engage in novel problem solving. Current assessment measures of student learning, such as standardized test scores and GPA, may not be the predictors of academic and career success that they were once believed to be. This is because they do not measure students’ adaptive problem solving abilities. Recent studies have attempted to define an adaptive expertise skill set that, when assessed, would provide engineering programs with a better predictor of student success. Adaptive expertise is defined as the ability to apply knowledge, gained through prior experiences, to novel situations in which key information is missing. Researchers have attempted to measure adaptive expertise through a variety of methods including interviews, think-alouds, and beliefs surveys. One of the most commonly used measures is Fisher and Peterson’s Adaptive Expertise Beliefs survey (2001).
As part of a larger post-semester survey, researchers at a mid-Atlantic university administered Fisher and Peterson's Adaptive Expertise Beliefs survey (2001) to students enrolled in a senior design capstone course. Two sections of this course were included in data collection. Instructors taught one section of the course using methods based on the principles of adaptive expertise, while the other course section involved the use of the traditional lecture-based method of instruction. Results indicated a significant difference in overall adaptive expertise belief scores. However, researchers did not find significant differences between the two groups on any of the individual Fisher and Peterson subscales, making interpretations regarding the impact of instructional methodology more difficult and less useful to the instructors.
This paper argues for the development of a more sensitive, more direct measurement of adaptive expertise. Given the importance of adaptive expertise to the emerging engineer, it is imperative that a measure of adaptive expertise be able to provide meaningful information regarding how students perform on the various dimensions of the construct. In addition, Fisher and Peterson's survey is an indirect measure that assesses what students report, not what they can actually do or demonstrate. A direct measure of adaptive expertise skills would allow for the development of educational interventions to promote adaptive expertise skills (not beliefs). In particular, such interventions would promote the development of more complex problem solving, better preparing future engineers for the fast-paced and constantly evolving environment of the workplace.
Pierrakos, O., & Anderson, R. D., & Welch, C. A. (2016, June), Measuring Adaptive Expertise in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25690
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