Andragogical Learning Characteristics in Second-year and Fourth-year Mechanical Engineering Students

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According to the ABET, the goal of an undergraduate mechanical engineering program is to prepare students to work professionally in the fields of thermal and mechanical systems. As a part of the accreditation process, ABET requires programs to demonstrate how their students are able to acquire knowledge as lifelong learners. Employers are interested in new graduates with the ability to think critically and work independently, which aligns well with adult learner characteristics often referred to as andragogy. Previous work on an examination of stakeholder documents and the purpose statements of undergraduate institutions also portray a desire to create graduates with an andragogical mindset. Pembridge (2014) developed a pilot instrument to measure andragogical constructs utilizing different instruments directly measuring the theoretical frameworks supporting assumptions of adult learning, while also comparing responses from first-year and fourth-year engineering students. He found significant differences between the two year groups of engineering students, with senior students having improved ability at self-directed learning and a stronger sense of adulthood. It is unknown how these results apply to a cadet population, where increased structure and additional military training may influence learning characteristics. The purpose of this research is to investigate the learning characteristics of United States MIlitary Academy cadets enrolled in the mechanical engineering major. We surveyed students in a second year design course and a fourth year capstone design course to better understand the progression from a pedagogical to an andragogical learning orientation. Survey data was collected from n = 58 (out of 85 total enrolled) second-year and n = 62 (out of 99 total enrolled) fourth-year mechanical engineering students. The survey used was a slightly modified version from Pembridge 2014, which drew upon previous instruments aligned with assumptions of andragogy. This survey provides insight in Self-Directed Learning Dimensions Scale (SDLAS), Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA), Epistemological Beliefs Assessment for Engineering (EBAE), Engineering Expectancy and Value Scale (EV), and Engineering Design Self-Efficacy. The results of this study contrast the andragogical orientations of second- and fourth-year students at the United States Military Academy. The results of this work allow engineering educators to better understand the current learning states of their students by expanding the contexts within which andragogical learning assumptions are applied. As a result, faculty may be more informed in curriculum decisions to fit the preponderant learning orientation. This work also allows engineering educators to identify strategies to better align undergraduate engineering students with the adult learning characteristics required in professional practice.
Andragogical learning orientation
Freisinger, G. M., & Melnyk, R., & Novoselich, B. J. (2018, June), Andragogical Learning Characteristics in Second-year and Fourth-year Mechanical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29804