Asee peer logo

Rethinking Engineering Education: Lessons from the Learning Experiences of Early-career Engineers

Download Paper |


2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Preparing Engineering Students for Their Professional Practice

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Yike Li Shanghai Jiao Tong University

visit author page

Yike Li received a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from Nanjing Agricultural University of China (2019), and is studying for a Master’s degree in Higher Education at SJTU. Her research interest includes early-career engineers’ learning experiences and entrepreneurship education.

visit author page


Jiabin Zhu Shanghai Jiao Tong University

visit author page

Jiabin Zhu is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Her primary research interests relate to the assessment of teaching and learning in engineering, cognitive development of graduate and undergraduate students, and global engineering. She received her Ph.D. from the School of Engineering Education, Purdue University in 2013.

visit author page


Zhinan Zhang Shanghai Jiao Tong University

visit author page

Dr. Zhinan Zhang is an associate professor at School of Mechanical Engineering,Shanghai Jiao Tong University. His research focuses on engineering design,design driven education.

visit author page

Download Paper |


More and more scholars have attempted to explore the real-world scenarios from the industry view so as to deepen the understanding of the engineering practice and improve engineering education accordingly. Currently, relevant international research has been increasing on this topic, but empirical research from industry perspective in China is still scarce. This-work-in progress focuses on understanding early-career engineers’ perspective in China using the theoretical framework of Cognitive Apprenticeship (CA), which describes the learning environment in four aspects: the content taught/learnt, the teaching/learning methods employed, the sequencing of learning activities, and the sociology of learning. By viewing early-career engineers’ growth experiences as a learning process in professional workplaces, we expect the findings to be more conductive to the training of engineering students in an educational environment. Using the CA framework, we will explore the specific learning content, learning methods, the sequencing of learning activities and the sociology of learning for early-career engineers in their workplaces. The study employs purposive sampling to select participants from different industrial fields in China. One-on-one interviews was used to collect data. The CA framework was used to design interview protocol. Preliminary findings suggested that the content that new engineers learnt included both the technical and non-technical aspects. The engineers learned through multiple venues, including such as learning by themselves and learning from their mentors. This study will provide practical suggestions for improving engineering education in both China and other similar contexts. Key words: Early-career Engineers; Engineering Practices;

Li, Y., & Zhu, J., & Zhang, Z. (2021, July), Rethinking Engineering Education: Lessons from the Learning Experiences of Early-career Engineers Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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: © 2021 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