ERIC Number: ED544737
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May
Reference Count: N/A
From Beginning to End: How Engineering Students Think and Talk about Sustainability across the Life Cycle. Research Brief
Kilgore, Deborah; Jocuns, Andrew; Yasuhara, Ken; Atman, Cynthia J.
Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (NJ1)
The Academic Pathways Study (APS) is a multi-institution, mixed-methods, longitudinal study which examines engineering students' learning and development as they move into, through, and beyond their undergraduate institutions (Atman et al., 2008; Sheppard et al., 2004). It is part of the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE), a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded higher education Center for Learning and Teaching (ESI-0227558). The present study examines how students think and talk about sustainable development, as well as the extent to which they consider life cycle while engaged in engineering design. Sixty-four students across the four APS institutions completed the same engineering design task in their second and fourth years. Fifteen of those students at one of the institutions (Large Public University or LPU), participated in a semi-structured, qualitative interview in their senior year, in which they were asked to talk about sustainable development and other concepts related to engineering. Questions about sustainable development were posed to these students shortly after they had completed the engineering design task. Analysis of the students' conceptions of sustainable development was accomplished in tandem with coding of their written answers to the engineering design task. Study results showed that students' conceptions of sustainability as an issue of limited resources ranged from very vague, arguably unlike the aspirations of policy makers for engineers in the coming decade, to rather promising in terms of exhibiting the kinds of knowledge, skills and attitudes about sustainability and sustainable development that are hoped for among the engineering education community. Their narratives suggested varying degrees of sophistication in their conceptions of sustainable development as a question of limited resources.
Descriptors: Mixed Methods Research, Longitudinal Studies, Undergraduate Students, Engineering, Engineering Education, Sustainable Development, Design, Semi Structured Interviews, Student Attitudes
Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education. Available from: University of Washington. Box 352183, Seattle, WA 98195. Fax: 206-221-3161; e-mail: celtad@engr. washington.edu; Web site: http://www.engr.washington.edu/caee
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: University of Washington, Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE)