June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Design in Engineering Education
13.1349.1 - 13.1349.11
USING PERFORMANCE REVIEWS IN CAPSTONE DESIGN COURSES FOR DEVELOPMENT AND ASSESSMENT OF PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
In addition to completing a challenging technical curriculum, engineering graduates must demonstrate teamwork, communication, and other professional skills including professional and ethical responsibility, life-long learning, and understanding the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context. Unless these outcomes are integrated into students' conceptions of being a "successful engineer" (getting a job and advancing their career), they will be under- valued and under-developed. This project demonstrates the use of industry-modeled 360° performance reviews in a team-based capstone project to link professional skills with an integral "engineering identity" to enhance how students value and develop professional skills. An important component of this work is the development of a taxonomy of professional skills outcomes for mechanical engineers that are understandable to undergraduate engineering students and that are linked to the ABET professional skills outcomes. The study found that by framing the creation of a taxonomy of professional skills as a learning process, students gained an appreciation for the importance of the “professional skills” and a sufficient ability to identify what those “professional skills” look like in practice. Also, the integration of student-defined professional skills and subsequent discussion within a senior capstone course resulted in a relatively complete and mature list of skills and descriptions of performance levels that strongly matches expectations from industry. Additionally, involving students in the creation and implementation of the taxonomy of professional skills gives them ownership in the process and ensures they will understand them and be able to rate themselves and their teammates with respect to the professional skills. Several years of experience with the performance review methodology indicates that students can develop a thorough and meaningful list of professional skills and demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of professional skills, an ability to self evaluate relative to an individual area for improvement, and an ability to develop and complete a performance improvement plan for a specific professional skill. We propose that this is an authentic way to demonstrate achievement of the ABET professional skills outcomes.
Traditional methods of educating engineers have come under considerable criticism in the past two decades. Studies have found shortcomings in what was once the standard engineering curriculum. In 1994, a report released by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) explained that, in addition to engineering fundamentals, an “understanding of the societal context of engineering” should be taught to students1. Explaining the role of engineering as an “integral process of societal change” had been put forward previously in a paper that encouraged educators to create an atmosphere that would allow students to “accept responsibility for civilization’s progress”2. The following year the National Science Foundation (NSF) pleaded for the introduction of courses that would address social or political concerns as well as legal and ethical issues in engineering3.
Kremer, G., & Burnette, D. (2008, June), Using Performance Reviews In Capstone Design Courses For Development And Assessment Of Professional Skills Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3640
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