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The Asce Bok And Attitudes Assessment

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Implementing the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge into Courses and Curricula

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1389.1 - 12.1389.8



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Paper Authors

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Peter Hoadley Professor @ VMI

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The ASCE BOK and Attitudes Assessment Abstract

In 2004 ASCE published a report defining the “knowledge, skills and attitudes,” or more broadly, the body of knowledge (BOK), necessary for an individual to enter the professional practice of civil engineering. It has been shown that “attitudes” are important in the effective use of “knowledge” and “skills.” A partial list of these attitudes might include commitment, curiosity, honesty, optimism, persistence, thoroughness and tolerance. The purpose of this paper is to address the “attitudes” portion of the BOK. What is the importance of attitudes in the engineering profession and in other professions as well? If attitudes are included in the BOK then they must be assessed. Knowledge and skills can be objectively measured while attitudes are far more subjective and difficult to assess in a consistent way. Some attitude assessment tools are discussed.


In 2004 ASCE published a report defining the “knowledge, skills and attitudes,” or more broadly, the body of knowledge (BOK), necessary for an individual to enter the professional practice of civil engineering.1 Knowledge means the familiarity with certain facts and natural laws while skill is the ability to use that knowledge. Attitude is “a mental position with regard to a fact or state.”2 Defining “knowledge” and “skills” in a BOK seems appropriate and straight forward but there has been much discussion regarding the appropriate inclusion of “attitudes” and, if appropriate, what attitudes should be listed and how are they to be assessed. Is it important for the engineering profession to address the issue of attitudes? Some have suggested it is abilities that should be included with knowledge and skills rather than attitudes. What attitudes might be included? Are attitudes important in other professions? How might attitudes be assessed?

The Importance of Attitudes in Engineering Professional Practice

The authors of the first BOK report wrote, “Knowledge and skills are not sufficient to effect a fully functioning professional engineer.”3 Appropriate attitudes are also necessary. Attitudes determine how an engineer uses knowledge and skills and they reflect one’s values and how one perceives and reacts to the world.4 Johnston5 writes, “An attitude is simply a predisposition to approach or avoid an idea, event, person or object. In other words, it is a tendency to act in one way or another toward an ‘attitude object.’" Attitudes do not exist in a vacuum; they require an object toward which to act. Attitudes can be positive and negative and either might be appropriate given the object toward which the attitude acts.

Several have shown that “attitudes” are important in the effective use of knowledge and skills when accomplishing engineering tasks. Elms noted that “besides having good technical training, a professional engineer has something more which distinguishes him from a technician. The extra quality is a set of attitudes, some of which, holism, realism and flexibility, can be encouraged by university teaching.”6 He outlines a way that university faculty could address this topic.

Hoadley, P. (2007, June), The Asce Bok And Attitudes Assessment Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2502

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