Learning Non-technical Skills from Pedagogical Training: Investigating IGERT Graduate Student Perceptions


©2015 American Society for Engineering Education. ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, 2015, Seattle, Washington.


Learning Non-Technical Skills from Interdisciplinary Training: Investigating IGERT Graduate Student ReflectionsAbstractInter- and multidisciplinary training has been advocated for graduate students as the problems facingscience and engineering become increasingly complex. The Integrative Graduate Education Research andTraineeship on [blinded for review] is a National Science Foundation-funded collaboration between[blinded for review] to prepare interdisciplinary science and engineering doctoral students for future rolesas leaders in the materials science and engineering fields. As part of this socialization into future careers,students proceed through a variety of modules throughout the year. This paper specifically studies one ofthe more unique modules, called the Pedagogy module, which seeks to introduce graduate engineeringstudents to best practices in teaching and student learning. The Pedagogy module has been taught for thelast four year, and each year, the deliverable at the end of the module differs based on student interest andprior experience. This study focuses on the fourth year of the module, during which, students were askedto pair with another graduate student to create a science activity and supporting materials for high schoolstudents and teachers. This study observes graduate students’ development using final reflections on thepedagogy module and project as data. Findings indicate that by practicing science activity design basedon their technical expertise, the doctoral students learned several non-technical skills that will be valuablein future careers, whether or not that profession will involve explicit aspects of education. In addition topedagogical knowledge gained, non-technical skills that students developed included (1) communicationskills; (2) the ability to convey technical expertise to non-technical audiences; and (3) virtual teamworkskills. These three skills have been noted in graduate literature to be areas of under-preparation for Ph.D.students. This shows that the development of non-technical professional skills can occur naturally wheninvolved in carefully designed authentic learning experiences. This research is important to theengineering education community in light of critiques of science and engineering doctoral education asbeing too narrow. Results of this research may offer similar opportunities and recommendations to otherengineering graduate programs.


Engineering education, Pedagogical training

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Berdanier, C. G., & Cox, M. F., & Wallin, T. J., & Murphy, M. J., & Harding, A. M. L., & Hussain, R., & Penterman, S. J., & Peters, V. N., & Tumkur, T. U., & Williams, Q. L., & Black, S. M. (2015, June), Learning Non-technical Skills from Pedagogical Training: Investigating IGERT Graduate Student Perceptions Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24410

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