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Using Multisource Assessment And Feedback Processes To Develop Entrepreneurial Skills In Engineering Students

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Assessment of Entrepreneurship Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1253.1 - 8.1253.8

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Paper Authors

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Jack McGourty

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

Session # 1354

Using Multisource Assessment and Feedback Processes to Develop Entrepreneurial Skills in Engineering Students*

Jack McGourty, James Reynolds, Columbia University Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Larry Shuman, Harvey Wolfe, University of Pittsburgh

This paper describes initial efforts to link, evaluate, and further develop specific innovation- related skill sets among students working in an engineering design context. By integrating two areas of research - innovation-related skills and multi-source assessment processes - the authors present efforts at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh to identify new methods to develop these important capabilities in engineering and science students. Over the past two years, multi-source assessment and feedback processes have been used to support students’ development of specific design team skills in Columbia’s first year design course and in the University of Pittsburgh's senior level product realization course. Many of these team skills are relevant to and highly correlated with entrepreneurial behaviors. This paper addresses how these innovative, entrepreneurial traits were: a) identified and defined, b) integrated into the students’ learning experience, and c) measured and correlated with team project outcomes.

Engineering educators are focusing more on the identification and integration of competency- based attributes to ensure that future engineers have the requisite skills to develop and build upon the steady stream of advanced technological breakthroughs. There are several reasons for this new focus in the engineering classroom. A key factor is the dynamic nature of technology in both the workplace and society. While fundamental scientific and technical knowledge remains important and necessary, many of the tools and technologies learned in today’s classroom become obsolete within the early years of an engineering career. One common statement made by today’s engineering alumni is the need to acquire certain professional skills in order to be effective in this dynamic workplace. These include functioning on multidisciplinary teams, communicating (written, oral and presentations), working with complex, globally based systems of products and services, and life-long learning.

In attempting to integrate these competency-based attributes into the engineering curriculum, many colleges and universities have focused on implementing a learning improvement process that involves clearly defining competencies, strategically linking them to course content, and measuring the learning outcomes as a result of these interventions. As part of a national group of researchers, Columbia University and University of Pittsburgh have been experimenting with multisource assessment and feedback processes as one way to enable the development of these requisite skills in engineering students.

Multisource assessment and feedback is a formal process that collects critical information on student competencies and specific behaviors and skills from several sources, including peers, self and instructors, and presents it to the student in a well-organized format so that he/she can better understand both his/her personal strengths and areas in need of development. The typical process involves gathering evaluative information for a target student from two or more rating sources. In addition, the target student also provides self-ratings that are subsequently compared to ratings

* Funding from NCIIA and the Coleman Foundation (University of Pittsburgh) and NSF Gateway Engineering Education Coalition (Columbia University)

McGourty, J. (2003, June), Using Multisource Assessment And Feedback Processes To Develop Entrepreneurial Skills In Engineering Students Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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