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The Transfer of Learning Between School and Work: A New Stance in the Debate About Engineering Graduates’ Preparedness for Career Success Abstract

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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

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

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Logan Andrew Perry Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Mr. Perry is a PhD student in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He holds a Master's degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University. He currently studies learning in the engineering workplace and is also working to better understand innovative new teaching strategies for engineering education.

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Jeremi S. London Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Jeremi London is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Education Department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. London is a mixed methods researcher with interests in research impact, cyberlearning, and instructional change in STEM Education. Prior to being a faculty member, London worked at the National Science Foundation, GE Healthcare, and Anheuser-Busch. She earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Industrial Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University.

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The preparation of engineering graduates for industry careers has been discussed in the engineering education literature for decades. Shifting from claims that students need more practical knowledge to arguments for a broader, theory-based education, critiques regarding what type of curriculum is better at preparing students for work have fluctuated back and forth for over a century. Despite this lack of consensus, engineering graduates continue to be hired in industry, with employment opportunities increasing in recent years. This begs the question: are students truly unprepared for work? To address this question, more research is needed to investigate the nature of the transition between academia and industry. In particular, a robust understanding of the degree to which students are translating their education into the workplace is needed. In educational psychology, the act of translating knowledge from one context to another is referred to as the transfer of learning. Oftentimes, discussions on transfer relate to the knowledge and skills that learners carry with them from one course to another. However, this paper is focused on school and work contexts, a transition which is largely unexplored with regard to transfer. The work presented herein takes the first step in addressing this gap by surveying the scholarship available pertaining to transfer. Beginning with the earliest approaches, this review presents an assortment of transfer theories that seek to explain how learners translate knowledge, skills, and attitudes between contexts. Following this review, the authors present suggestions for transfer theories that may be most appropriate for studying the transition between engineering school and work. Future research on this topic is also suggested.

Perry, L. A., & London, J. S. (2021, July), The Transfer of Learning Between School and Work: A New Stance in the Debate About Engineering Graduates’ Preparedness for Career Success Abstract Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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