Evaluating Learning Outcomes of Soft Skills in Mechanical Engineering Education

DS 78: Proceedings of the 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE14), Design Education and Human Technology Relations, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 04-05.09.2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Arthur Eger, Wouter Eggink, Ahmed Kovacevic, Brian Parkinson, Wessel Wits
Author: Breitschuh (1), Jan; Helmich (2), Annica; Albers (1), Albert; Gidion (2), Gerd
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), IPEK – Institute of Product Engineering; 2 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Centre for Open and Distance Learning
Section: Reflection on Teaching
Page(s): 644-649
ISBN: 978-1-904670-56-8


Soft skills, such as creativity, teamwork abilities and strength of implementation are essential key competencies for successful product development engineers. Within the structure of an engineer's academic education, design projects are applied as a medium to help develop professional, methodological and social competencies. At the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) yearly events for undergraduate students (third and fourth semester) of mechanical engineering are organized, during which several hundred students are grouped into small project teams and work together to solve a common design task. During this design project, the students’ progress in competence development is monitored in a total of six project milestones, the so-called workshops. In order to provide specific and purposeful feedback on the status quo of competency development, a five-dimensional competence model is used. The five dimensions are professional competence, methodological competence, creativity, teamwork abilities and strength of implementation. In this work a federal funded project with the aim of evaluating learning outcomes especially of soft skills in a reliable and valid manner is presented. Since the past two years of the research project several empirical investigations were made and led to specific tools which are currently under testing in the workshops. As a next step, these individual measures are to be integrated and enhanced in an Intervention Toolbox which is supposed to provide teaching personnel a set of instructions to create, analyze and interpret situations where students must show their soft skills.

Keywords: Project-Based Learning, Intervention Toolbox, Soft Skills Evaluation, Assessment


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