June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Professional development, at all levels, is focused on improving performance across a broad range of skills. Defining and describing professional competencies is one of the central tasks to creating an effective professional development strategy or framework. In engineering education, a common practice is to draw these competencies from the accreditation framework adopted by ABET. Competencies defined in this manner are certainly valid for engineering programs, but tend to focus too heavily on the technical skills of graduates. This focus is understandable considering that engineers must be first, and foremost, technically competent, but this focus overlooks other professional skill sets. In this paper, the development and initial validation of a set of professional competencies and related behavioral anchors is described. These proposed competencies were formulated as a part of a National Science Foundation-supported research project focused on the professional development of graduate students. The University of Tulsa Professional Competency Model adopted here is informed by existing frameworks that have been used in the organizational psychology and leadership literatures. As such, these professional development areas include skills that are more commonly aligned with other disciplines, especially those in business and management. However, as many engineers ultimately aspire to take on leadership roles within their organizations, these skills are vital to their development. The competency model described here is intended to work in tandem with the traditional technical competencies expected in graduate engineers.
An initial competency set was defined by faculty from three engineering disciplines (Mechanical, Chemical, and Petroleum). These competencies include skills such as written communication, creativity, conflict management, and leadership. After this initial set was chosen, feedback from employers was sought through the Industrial Advisory Boards of the three engineering departments. Unlike most accreditation-based competencies, a set of behavioral anchors was also formulated to define performance levels. Behavioral anchors were classed into three categories, development opportunity, average performer, and area of strength. The proposed behavioral anchors are central to the overall definition of these professional skills as they provide reference to performance rather than simply describing expectations. The psychometric properties of the competency descriptions and behavioral anchors were examined using a small test group (N=13). Future analyses will assess the relationship between the proposed competencies and those implemented in other settings.). Additionally, the relationship between the proposed competencies and those implemented in other settings will be reviewed.
Keller, M. W., & Brummel, B. J., & Streets, V. N., & Kerr, A. J., & Younis, R. M., & Tecle, L., & Crunkleton, D. W. (2017, June), Professional Competencies with Behaviorally Anchored Ratings for Graduate Students Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28760
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