Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Education

Committee Chair(s)

Angela Minichiello


Angela Minichiello


Oenardi Lawanto


Kurt Becker


Amy Wilson-Lopez


Idalis Villanueva Alarcón


One goal of undergraduate engineering education is to prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and decision-making strategies that are necessary for success in engineering practice. One proposed method to teach students these skills is to incorporate habits of mind into K-12 and undergraduate curricula. Habits of mind are the intelligent, social behaviors that engineers should aspire to have when solving problems, engaging with others, and dealing with uncertainty. Previous literature has suggested that incorporating ideas about habits of mind in educational curricula can teach students the disciplinary skills, technical knowledge, and social values that would help prepare them to enter the workforce and society in general. While engineering education researchers have explored how undergraduate engineering students use habits of mind in an academic context, there is little research examining how practicing engineers use habits of mind when solving problems at their workplaces.

The purpose of this study is to explore how habits of mind are represented within the authentic work of practicing engineers working across different engineering contexts. Analysis of field notes, interviews, think-alouds, and artifacts from four distinct practicing engineers suggests that there are five broad habits of mind that are represented across different engineering contexts. The habits of mind include being Problem-focused, Interpersonal, Self-reflective, Mindful of the bigger picture, and Technically adept. Findings from this study also suggest that habits of mind are used differently depending on the engineering context. The results of this study can inform curriculum development for undergraduate engineering education to prepare students to enter the engineering workforce by teaching them the engineering habits of mind that are used by practitioners in their field. Additionally, findings support the development of a conceptual framework for habits of mind in engineering for the purpose of guiding pedagogy and curriculum development.