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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploration and Assessment of Leadership Development in Engineering Students
by Komarek, Rebecca Lynn Delannoy, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2020, 163; 27956569
Abstract (Summary)

From the United States’ failing infrastructure to the Boeing 737 MAX 8 grounding, the need for strong leadership from the engineering community is clear. This fact is acknowledged by various entities like professional organizations, the National Academy of Engineers, and more recently, by the engineering accrediting body, ABET. This study aims to explore the leadership attitudes of engineering students in their final year at one large, public institution.

The first study focuses on student engagement among graduating undergraduates from all engineering accredited majors. The results show various activities are linked to stronger leadership skill assurance: work off-campus, serving as a leader in a non-engineering student group, positive faculty and peer interactions, and curricular influences like engineering management courses and a capstone design course that students feel prepares them for their career.

The second study explores leadership development of students in a civil engineering capstone design course with a focus on the differentiation between self, peer, and instructor ratings for students among specific demographic groups. Key insights drawn from this study include that peer and instructor ratings trended together, supporting the idea that external rater feedback is valuable. Additionally, there was evidence of negative bias in the peer ratings for underrepresented minority students and the instructor ratings for international students.

The third study explores leadership development of students in a mechanical engineering capstone design course with a focus on the evolution of their leadership behaviors at three timepoints during the year-long class. Students self-reported higher leadership scores at the end of the class, even with minimal instruction that framed course activities as leadership. Female students’ leadership scores started high and remained high, while scores for men increased from beginning to end. Students with high, well-rounded leadership scores were lower at the end of the class while students who started with low scores increased consistently through the course.

This series of studies details how engineering students nearing graduation view their leadership skills as they work in a team of their peers. Furthermore, these insights are valuable to educators as they implement the common methods of assessing leadership exemplified in this research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bielefeldt, Angela R
Commitee: Knight, Daniel W, Simmons, Denise R, Corotis, Ross B, Javernick-Will, Amy
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI 81/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Civil engineering, Educational leadership, Science education
Keywords: Assessment, Capstone design, Education, Engineering, Leadership, Teamwork
Publication Number: 27956569
ISBN: 9798645451608
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