May an Increased Focus on Students’ Personal Development Contribute to Increased Motivation, Better Academic Performance and Teamwork in Engineering Programs?
Paper in proceedings, 2011
Our hypothesis is that an increased focus on engineering students’ personal development in the curricula will increase their motivation, academic performance and teamwork. With this starting point we have developed the EDIT model for personal development aimed at the engineering students in the 5-year EE, CE and SE programs at Chalmers University of Technology. The EDIT model comprises the topics and the process and timing of the delivery in the curricula at the bachelor level. It is based on behavior-scientific theories and on 40 years of experience in guiding engineering students at Chalmers. The fundamental concept for the model is that introspective knowledge gives extrovert ability. It comprises four topics: Motivation and learning, Teamwork, Leadership, Career and professional life, and a complementary reflection package. Based on motivational theory and pedagogical literature, we discuss why we have selected these topics and how they should be implemented in the curricula and syllabi to facilitate the development of the students. We argue that these topics should be placed in a context and at a time that makes them meaningful to the students. We give practical examples from the project test implementation and discuss practical issues that are likely to hinder the long-term success. In conclusion, we find that there is some evidence from our experiments that motivation and teamwork is improved. The possible effect on academic performance is so far very hard to assess.