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Title:Real-Life Professional Problem-Solving Efforts of Engineers and Related Learning Activities
Author(s):Walker, Mary Beatrice Schwab
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Adult and Continuing
Abstract:In 1980, an in-depth study was undertaken involving two-hour interviews with 40 practicing engineers at three sites. This study investigated the nature and types of formal or informal learning activities these engineers engaged in for reaching solutions to specific, on-the-job engineering problems. The emphasis was on the problem-specific nature of the learning activities employed, rather than on general professional development.
The study controlled for level of problem. After being given criteria and examples, interviewees were each asked to first think of one well-defined recent engineering problem and then were asked questions about their specific learning activities related to that problem. This process was repeated with a specific ill-defined engineering problem as focal point. Questions concerned such characteristics as self-directedness, intentionality, duration and location of the learning activities, resources used, as well as benefits of these and of the learning activities.
Different patterns were found in the learning activities chosen for well-defined and ill-defined problems. These are some principal findings concerning the 288 learning activities for the 80 specific engineering problems: the average number of learning activities was significantly greater for well-defined than for ill-defined problems, but this difference in total numbers camouflaged statistically significant subpatterns; while the 40 engineers consulted colleagues more than any other learning activity for both levels of problem, this varied by type and number between junior and senior engineers; reading was the second most frequently mentioned learning activity and varied by number and type with levels of problem; while courses were scarcely mentioned in connection with the 80 problems, the engineers took and expressed preferences for certain types of courses; problem time limits affected the learning activities chosen; total time and multiplicity of sessions for some learning activities varied significantly with level of problem and other factors; three stages of learning activity selection and planning were found, with different degrees of self-direction in each stage for various learning activities; number of resource persons differed with level of problem; benefits of resource persons and of learning activities clustered into categories by level of problem.
Issue Date:1982
Description:163 p.
Thesis (Educat.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8209640
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982

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