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Effects of interdisciplinary courses on future engineers' competency

Hyunjung Rhee (Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Jinyoung Han (Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Minha Lee (Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Young-Wan Choi (Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 3 February 2020

Issue publication date: 21 May 2020

Abstract

Purpose

This study explores the effects of interdisciplinary education on engineering students by observing students' competencies before and after the programme.

Design/methodology/approach

The effects of interdisciplinary education were studied over three years through the use of a survey to test the social competencies of organisational life and the interdisciplinary competencies of college students. A total of 5,185 responses were collected from engineering students who took part in interdisciplinary education programmes. The survey was conducted during weeks 3 and 14 of each semester, and a comparison test was used to reveal any changes.

Findings

Among the 12 competencies developed or adapted, leadership significantly improved during all six semesters. Analytical thinking, interpersonal competency, professional attitude, global-mindedness, and creative attitudes also improved in some of the semesters.

Research limitations/implications

It was not possible to control for the effect of classes that students were attending in addition to the targeted interdisciplinary class. However, this study was able to examine empirically the improvement of competencies for future engineers, and its findings provide a basis for future researchers to elaborate on other competencies as well.

Originality/value

The study recommends competencies needed by engineers working in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, examining the effects of interdisciplinary education on competency development. It contributes to strengthening the current trend in universities that seek to reform interdisciplinary education by empirically verifying its effectiveness.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper is an extended version of the conference paper, (Choi et al., 2018), ‘Effects of Interdisciplinary Courses on Engineering Students' Competencies’ presented at TENCON 2018.

Citation

Rhee, H., Han, J., Lee, M. and Choi, Y.-W. (2020), "Effects of interdisciplinary courses on future engineers' competency", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 467-479. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-05-2019-0071

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited