The capacity for life-long learning is critical for success in engineering practice. Metacognition, defined as “thinking about thinking,” is key to the development of life-long learning, yet is rarely directly addressed in engineering education. This paper will report on the authors’ study of the development of metacognition skills of graduates of the Iron Range Engineering (IRE) program, an innovative problem-based learning program that integrates metacognition instruction with engineering content. The IRE program offers a unique setting for studying developing metacognitive skills in engineering students who, as part of their curriculum, solve ill-structured, real-world problems.
Our NSF funded project is designed to (1) understand the metacognitive skills developed during preparation of engineering students in a problem-based learning (PBL) program and (2) understand if this preparation helps students in transitioning to the workforce.
In this paper, we will report on the results of interviews with recent IRE graduates (who are working as engineers), and their supervisors. We interviewed these graduates to ascertain:
• How their IRE preparation in metacognition helped them (or not) to transition to the engineering workforce
• To what extent do graduates apply the lifelong learning and metacognition skills developed at IRE in their current positions?
We will discuss our results in terms of the explicit metacognitive instruction used by the IRE program and the extent to which these strategies may contribute to the success of their engineering graduates in the workplace. We will further discuss how these instructional activities could be used as a model for engineering educators to improve the readiness of students to be flexible, independent, life-long learners.
Professor Rose M. Marra is the Director of the School of Information Science and Learning Technology at the University of Missouri. She is PI of the NSF-funded Supporting Collaboration in Engineering Education, and has studied and published on engineering education, women and minorities in STEM, online learning and assessment. Marra holds a PhD. in Educational Leadership and Innovation and worked as a software engineer before entering academe.
Dr. So Mi Kim completed her doctoral degree at the University of Georgia, Learning, Design, and Technology program. Before that, she had worked for the Korean Government in nation-wide ICT integration projects to K-12 schools over 10 years. She specializes in inquiry/ critical information-based problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (e.g., OER, social media, games, and augmented reality).
Carolyn Plumb is the recently retired Director of Educational Innovation and Strategic Projects in the College of Engineering at Montana State University (MSU). Plumb has been involved in engineering education and program evaluation for over 25 years, and she continues to work on externally funded projects relating to engineering education.
Dr. Hacker is a full professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and participates in both the Learning Sciences Program and the Reading and Literacy Program. Prior to receiving his Ph. D. in educational psychology from the University of Washingt
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