Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

The 47th SEFI Annual Conference in Budapest. 16-19 September 2019


Recent calls for reform of engineering education have highlighted the importance of treating the engineering education system holistically; not only looking at developing curriculum components nor proposing new teaching pedagogies to enhance graduate skills. One aspect of this holistic view, which has not been given due cognisance is the impact that academic conceptions can have on the experience of the student in the educational system. The authors propose that academics teaching on engineering programmes do not share a common understanding of what we mean by “professional skills”, nor assume the same teaching and learning processes which develop these skills. It is unlikely that large scale reform of engineering education will be successful until we better understand and therefore allow for variations in conceptions of what we term here, “Professional Skills”. This paper reports on preliminary findings of a PhD study; a phenomenographic study of academic conceptions of the term professional skills in engineering graduates in Ireland. These preliminary results show that there are at least four qualitatively different ways in which the academics interviewed, conceive of the term professional skills. It is hoped that the results will enable academics to better understand how their own conceptions are similar to, or how they differ from their colleagues and so can enable them to better see how their own strategies can help reform engineering education. This paper presents preliminary findings and hopes to generate discussion at the conference to help define, debate and shape the findings of the overall study

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Engineering Commons