Cognitive Skills Development Among Undergraduate Engineering Students

Hannah Smith, Brian Frank
2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access Proceedings   unpublished
Hannah Smith is an educational researcher, supporting projects in cognitive skills assessment and professional skills development in engineering. Hannah completed a Master's degree in Engineering Education, investigating engineering students' creative confidence and internal motivation for creativity. Abstract This research paper addresses assessment of numeracy and literacy among engineering students, which are core to problem solving and critical thinking, but challenging to consistently
more » ... re. The Essential Adult Skills Initiative (EASI) was a research project involving 20 Canadian postsecondary institutions, designed to measure the literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills of incoming and graduating college and university students the Education and Skills Online Assessment (ESO). At one participating institution, the ESO was administered over a two-year window in a cross-sectional approach to 112 first year and 65 fourth year engineering students. Statistically significant improvements were observed from first to fourth year in numeracy (W = 2634 , p < 0.05), and in literacy (W = 2743, p > 0.05). Of the fourth year participants, 38% received scores associated with trouble consistently performing critical written analysis, and 49% received scores associated with trouble consistently performing critical numerical analysis. Time spent on test was found to be correlated to final score (r = 0.35, p < 0.001). These results raise questions concerning the baseline skill level of some graduating engineering undergraduates, and when combined with prior literature also question adequacy of low-stakes standardized tests for measuring complex cognitive skills.
doi:10.18260/1-2--34297 fatcat:l5kldcx7cvf75cyz4wx3lrr7vi