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Student Perceptions and Attitudes Towards a Required vs. an Optional Course in Leadership

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Insights and Practices for Engineering Leadership Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development Division

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Paper Authors


Alan R. Parkinson Brigham Young University

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Alan Parkinson was dean of the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology from 2005 to 2016. Previously he served as chair of Mechanical Engineering from 1995 to 2001.

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Gregg Morris Warnick Brigham Young University

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Gregg M. Warnick is the Director of the Weidman Center for Global Leadership and Associate Teaching Professor of Engineering Leadership within the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology at Brigham Young University (BYU). The center provides oversight for leadership development and international activities within the college and he works actively with students, faculty and staff to promote and develop increased capabilities in global agility and leadership. His research and teaching interests include developing global agility, globalization, leadership, project management, ethics, and manufacturing processes. Gregg has lived in numerous locations within the USA and Europe and has worked in many places including North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Prior to joining BYU, Gregg worked for Becton Dickinson, a Global Medical Technology fortune 500 Company. In this capacity he worked as a product development engineer, quality engineer, technical lead, business leader and program/project manager managing many different global projects. Gregg received his PhD in Educational Leadership and Higher Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Master of Technology Management degree and a BS in Manufacturing Engineering Technology, from Brigham Young University. Gregg also does consulting in project management and leadership working with IPS Learning and Stanford University where he provides training for fortune 500 companies throughout the world.

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Randall Davies Brigham Young University

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Dr. Davies is currently an assistant professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. His research involves program evaluation in educational settings with the general objective of understanding and improving the teaching and learning process. His research has a specific focus of evaluating technology integration, assessment policy, and educational practices.

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For almost ten years, most of the students in the College of Engineering and Technology at XXX University have been required to take a sophomore level leadership foundations course focused on leadership principles, ethics, and global issues. The course is part of an overall leadership framework whereby students are introduced to the importance of leadership as freshmen, they learn foundational leadership principles as sophomores, and they practice these principles as juniors and seniors.

The leadership foundations course is required for graduation by 7 of 10 programs within the College of Engineering and Technology. Students external to the college also participate in the course as it fulfills two general education requirements for graduation. As a result, the college teaches approximately 15 sections each academic year averaging 60-80 students per section. Data from previous semesters indicates that approximately 10-15% of student course participants are external to the college.

In this paper we discuss a survey of 171 students initially enrolled in the leadership foundations course regarding their perceptions and attitudes towards leadership. Results include a comparison of students who are required to take the course and those for whom it is optional. We discuss student perceptions and attitudes about the importance of leadership as compared to other skills they learn within their chosen major. The paper also provides insight on what topics in a leadership course students believe are the most important.

Parkinson, A. R., & Warnick, G. M., & Davies, R. (2017, June), Student Perceptions and Attitudes Towards a Required vs. an Optional Course in Leadership Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28864

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