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Work in Progress: Does Practice Make Perfect? How First Year Students Develop Reflective Learning Skills

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2018 FYEE Conference


Glassboro, New Jersey

Publication Date

July 24, 2018

Start Date

July 24, 2018

End Date

July 26, 2018

Conference Session

Technical Session III

Tagged Topic

FYEE Conference Sessions

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Paper Authors


Natalie C.T. Van Tyne Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Natalie Van Tyne is an Associate Professor of Practice at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she teaches first year engineering design as a foundation courses for Virginia Tech's undergraduate engineering degree programs. She holds bachelors and masters degrees from Rutgers University, Lehigh University and Colorado School of Mines, and studies best practices in pedagogy, reflective learning and critical thinking as aids to enhanced student learning.

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Work in Progress: Does Practice Make Perfect? How First Year Students Develop Reflective Learning Skills

The U.S. Department of Labor and the American Association of Engineering Societies developed the Engineering Competency Model in 2015. [1] This model contains five tiers of competence: Personal Effectiveness, Academic Competencies, Workplace Competencies, Industry-Wide Technical Competencies, and Industry-Sector Functional Areas. The competencies have been identified as necessary for success and advancement in the engineering profession. It appears as a pyramid, where each tier contains an increasingly wider variety of specific competencies when viewed from the top to the bottom. [1] Within these tiers, we assert that specific competencies in Adaptability and Flexibility, Lifelong Learning, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking and Engineering Ethics can be enhanced through practice in reflective thinking and judgement.

While reflective learning skills often take time and maturity to develop, and are recognized as metacognitive, first year engineering students are already involved with metacognition as they consider and evaluate their own place in the engineering community through their sense of engineering identity and self-efficacy. [2] We apply reflection to the learning experiences of our first year engineering design course through five individual written assignments that prompt students to reflect on what they have learned in the course, why it is important to them to learn it, and in what other context could they use their knowledge. These assignments are intended to contribute to their intellectual development to whatever extent is possible during the first year, with the assumption that they will have opportunities for further intellectual growth later on, as they build the competencies identified in the Engineering Competency Model. [1] Our goal is to identify where the “starting point is for

We will measure individual progress in reflection over the course of a semester by using a repeatable and internally developed rubric for grading the assignments, and comparing participants’ responses over time to the intellectual development scales found in the Perry Model [3] and in the Reflective Judgement Stages of King and Kitchener. [4] Our results will inform our course content and delivery by indicating whether feedback through a repeated rubric is sufficient for students to progress beyond a superficial level of reflection, indicating little or no intellectual growth, or whether additional guided practice in reflective learning is necessary. In addition, our results may also provide some indication of whether today’s engineering students could progress any farther in their intellectual development than those studied by Pavelich and Moore in the early 1990’s. [3] References [1] American Association of Engineering Societies, "Engineering Competency Model," 2003-2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 16 02 2018]. [2] J. P. Gee, "Chapter 3: Identity as a Lens for Research in Education," Review of Research in Education, vol. 25, pp. 99-125, 2000-2001. [3] M. J. Pavelich and W.S. Moore, "Measuring the Effect of Experiential Education Using the Perry Model," Journal of Engineering Education, pp. 287-292, 1996. [4] P.M. King and K.S. Kitchener, "The Reflective Judgement Stages," University of Michigan, 12 October 1994. [Online]. Available: . [Accessed 4 February 2018].

Van Tyne, N. C. (2018, July), Work in Progress: Does Practice Make Perfect? How First Year Students Develop Reflective Learning Skills Paper presented at 2018 FYEE Conference, Glassboro, New Jersey.

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