June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Engineering Leadership Development
Engineering leadership as a field of study has grown rapidly in the last two decades (Handley et al., 2018; Klassen et al., 2016), but there is limited understanding of how engineering students view the importance of leadership skills generally and how they appraise their confidence in their own leadership skills in comparison to other skills. This paper addresses these gaps by investigating how a nation-wide sample of 2,485 final year Canadian undergraduate engineering students perceive the importance of leadership ability; how confident they are in their own leadership ability, and how these two measures interact in comparison to other professional and technical skills across demographic (gender, race, and residential status) and academic (discipline and academic standing) variables. Our findings show that towards the end of their undergraduate studies the students overall viewed leadership ability as important to becoming a successful engineer and were relatively confident in their ability; that they rated their proficiency in leadership ability slightly higher than the importance of it; and that students’ importance and confidence ratings of leadership ability were associated with particular demographic and academic variables. Our findings also demonstrate that the students rated the importance of leadership ability substantially lower than other professional skills such as teamwork and communication; that they viewed leadership ability and math and science skills as almost equally important to becoming a successful engineer; and that they considered themselves to be slightly more competent in leadership than other professional skills and math and science skills. Drawing on the expectancy-value theory (Eccles et al., 1983, 2000, 2002), we argue that even though the students overall valued leadership, they ascribed a lower utility value to it than to other professional skills such as teamwork and communication and thus may be less likely to be motivated to practice it than these other skills, at least at the early stage of their career.
Kovalchuk, S., & Liu, Q., & Rottmann, C., & Klassen, M., & Ricci, J., & Reeve, D., & Moore, E. (2019, June), Perceived Importance and Confidence in Leadership Ability: A National Survey of Final Year Canadian Engineering Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33167
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: © 2019 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