International Expectations of Engineering Graduate Attributes

International Expectations of Engineering Graduate Attributes

R. Paul, R. Hugo, L. Falls (2015).  International Expectations of Engineering Graduate Attributes. 14.

As societal and organizational dynamics change, the skills expected from graduating engineers also change. Regulating bodies worldwide mandate and update these expectations with engineering graduate attributes or competency guidelines. These regulations direct engineering education institutions towards the expected outcomes of the engineering curriculum. Within the curriculum, the graduate attributes are taught through a variety of teaching and learning activities (TLAs). This study is conducted in two phases: the first phase involves performing a survey and comparison of international engineering graduate attributes; the second phase involves a literature survey of best practices, as reported in the literature, describing TLAs which best develop these attributes.

The first phase of this study compares international graduate attribute lists for common skill requirements of graduating engineers. Graduate attribute guidelines from worldwide engineering regulating bodies were collected. The data was analyzed using content analysis and constant comparative methods in order to reduce the data down into main themes. Five overall themes of engineering graduate attributes were identified: knowledge base, professionalism, problem solving, diverse work setting, and design. These five themes were split into 21 categories. Proximity analysis was then used to compare the resulting categories to the original data, providing insight into the relationship between the categories.

Once the international expectations of engineering graduate attributes were defined and categorized, the second phase determined how institutions develop, assess, and measure these attributes in undergraduate engineering students. A summary is provided of the TLAs used for each outcome and any instruments that measured the effectiveness of these activities, including assessments of student learning and evaluations of professor implementation. Through this process, an understanding is gained of the teaching and learning practices that develop each attribute.

The results from this study will develop an inclusive summary of international engineering graduate attributes, followed by TLAs that can be used to achieve these attributes. Engineering institutions seeking to improve their curriculum or strengthen development in specific graduate attributes can use the results of this paper to identify the appropriate TLAs that can assist in the process of continuous program improvement. The paper ends by highlighting the engineering graduate attributes for which there appears to be an insufficient number of TLAs reported in the literature. This result can be used to suggest a path for future research.

Proceedings of the 11th International CDIO Conference, Chengdu, China, June 8-11 2015

Authors (New): 
Robyn Paul
Ronald J Hugo
Lynne Cowe Falls
University of Calgary, Canada
Graduate Attributes
Washington Accord
Qualitative Content Analysis
CDIO Syllabus
CDIO Standard 2
CDIO Standard 3
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