Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, Supplement, 104-106
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes ( DOI:10.4236/ce.2012.37B027
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Formation of Professional Competence of Students in
Engineering Education
Elena Lisichko, Ekaterina Postnikova, Sergei I. Tverdokhlebov
Department of Theoretical and Experimental Physics, National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University, TPU
Tomsk, Russia
Received 2012
Today, employers highly appreciate in addition to knowledge and skills in the professional field new abil-
ities such as collaboration, creative approach to solving production problems, learning throughout life, the
ability to adapt to changes, and the responsibility for the completed projects. The issues of the formation
of professional competence among technical specialty students during the process of studying fundamen-
tal disciplines are considered. The model and the conditions of its realization using information and
communication technologies are described.
Keywords: Competencies in Engineering Education; Model of Forming Competencies; Pedagogical
Conditions; Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
Nowadays there are new demands to engineers’ education
(training) process according to the modern conditions of social
development, improved production technologies and globaliza-
tion of economics. Narrow and professional approach to educa-
tion today is not sufficient, and higher education together with
training of new generation specialists for labor activity should
create an educated citizen, critically thinking individual, who
have adopted certain cultural standards, democratic values,
ethical principles. This new personality should have an ability
to appreciate the moral value of actions and choices, signific-
ance of national cultural values and intercultural dialogue. To-
day employers, along with professional knowledge and skills
appreciate new abilities such as teamwork, creativity, an ability
to anticipate events and put in a broader context, resourceful-
ness, an ability to learn and adapt to changes, efficiency, and
accountability organization. And the fundamental basis of all
important and relevant disciplines in a technical institute of
higher education is physics. Teaching physics is carried out
during the first two years of education in college. At present, it
was revealed the need to expand the role of physics in terms of
building readiness of students for professional careers. The
integration success of fundamental and professional training
determines the understanding of readiness for professional ac-
tivities [1]. To solve the problem of formation of a technical
college students’ readiness for professional careers during stud-
ying fundamental disciplines there was developed a special
model of teaching and were formulated conditions for its func-
According to the proposed model, student will be prepared
for future career if he can cope with the project technologies for
application of fundamental knowledge in solving problems in
the fields of his future professional activity. To reach such re-
sult it is necessary to eliminate major shortcomings of tradi-
tional training related to the inefficiency of managing cognitive
activity of students [3]. This transition is about the orientation
from the average student to a particular one, when teacher
receives information about the quality of learning of the ma-
terial directly during the process of classes and independent
work; it is also about supporting students during their cognitive
activity [4]. Rectification of shortcomings will be more effec-
tive if to use interactive teaching methods which include a set
of pedagogical influence instruments. For an effective func-
tioning of the formation model of students readiness for their
future careers there were identified several educational criteria.
The first one concerns implementation of multilevel monitoring
of the formation of a technical college students readiness for
professional careers during the process of learning physics with
the help of information and communication technologies. The
second term is about using elements of professional work dur-
ing the formation of project tasks in the process of studying
physics. And the participation of physics teachers and profes-
sors of relevant disciplines in the design and analytical stu-
dents’ activity is also important [5]. Implementation of multi-
level monitoring is carried out during lectures and practical
classes accomplished in the sphere of IT technologies or with
its help. Such processes are based on using experimental spe-
cialized auditorium with feedback, where control of students’
cognitive activities is organized in the ACS SCA environment
(automated control system of students’ cognitive activity). Spe-
cialized auditorium is equipped with personal computers for
students. The teacher can conduct a survey in the form of test-
ing and receive afterwards information about the level of data
mastering, the degree of students’ readiness to further solving
and mastering of new material in real time.
It is important to conduct the first students’ lecture with
psychologist for taking into account personal characteristics of
students, to identify the dominant trends in their behavior, their
motivation concerning professional career [2]. Psychologist
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
gets all the necessary psychological characteristics of students.
Psychological and pedagogical feedback in ACS SCA is based
on the parameters of the model, in which there is a professio-
nally selected and adapted set of psychological techniques.
They can determine the dominant trends of behavior in student
studying activities and his motivational mechanism: a value
orientation, the leading manner of activity and behavior strate-
gy in achieving goals, personal meaning, determination of
technical or humanitarian types of thinking, as well as their
development; emotional student response in a situation of test-
ing his knowledge level, his competence in the studying ma-
terial [6]. Thus, project teams should be formed according to
psychologist’s results.
To educate students of engineering specialties inside the
"Power and Electrical Engineering" course in Tomsk Polytech-
nic University a project-oriented approach is used [7]. The
project-oriented approach for teaching students of technical
college implies the approach based on an independent student
project work, which is focused on solving of problematic situa-
tions identified on the basis of the interconnection between
basic and specialized courses. From the first year of education
students are involved in solving problems with a professional
directivity during learning physics. To implement this approach
students solve physics problems which can occur in the future
professional activity. Such tasks are coordinated with depart-
ments where students learn. When analyzing tasks students
generate the ideas, which they bring to life in the performance
of micro- and macro-projects.
To introduce a project-oriented approach the following steps
should be implemented: gradual students training to conduct
project work during learning physics, identifying personal cha-
racteristics of students, building skills to work independently as
well as problem-solving skills when student is in a team. On the
first propedeutic (preparatory) stage it is necessary to disclose
the specifics of the project activity and its importance to pro-
fessional engineers. On the second stage students learn to work
individually within their project activities. Teacher should give
each student an opportunity to implement himself in the process
of learning physics, to comprehend its fundamental mission for
further understanding of the possible future career, and to learn
how to use physics knowledge in future professional activities.
On the third stage students need to learn how to conduct group
project work. The teacher must teach students to work in a team
with a creative approach to solving of professional tasks.
The transition to an independent project-oriented activity of
students should be in the system "student - teacher of physics,
teachers of professional branch of science", because such coor-
dination of students’ activity organization by teachers of phys-
ics and teachers of professional disciplines facilitates the identi-
fication of the most relevant issues which will be a constituent
part of the professional activities of specialist [8].
It is possible to distinguish the following competencies of
students which should be formed:
the level of theoretical material;
the formation level of professionally-oriented design skills;
the level of motivation to the professional activity.
Implemenation of the Model
Implementing organizational and the activity model unit of
the competencies formation among students of engineering
specialties include preparatory, formative and final stages. Here
is an example of this unit implementation for specialty "Elec-
trical Power Systems and Networks." Currently, one of the
problems to be solved by specialists of this course is the devel-
opment and effective use of methods of nondestructive control
of power plants’ equipment. These methods include acoustic,
magnetic (electromagnetic), optical, detection of defects with
penetrating substances, radiative, radio wave, thermal, and
electrical methods. They are the basis for the technical inspec-
tion of devices and the detection of equipment defects. Using
these methods on modern production plants helps to reduce an
amount of accidents, to improve durability and efficiency of the
Awareness of these methods allows forming in students the
necessary competencies they will need in their professional
activities. It is carried out during their further studying in spe-
cial departments. The integration of professional and funda-
mental knowledge is accomplished by selecting physical
project tasks oriented on professional career. Selection of the
tasks is carried out in accordance with the following require-
ments: compliance with educational standards accepted by the
university, compliance with students’ level of training, and
connection with future professional activities.
As it was already mentioned, an important stage in physics
studying is to set tasks for students tailored to their future ca-
reers. Tasks are divided into elementary components and then
students are checked in the classroom with feedback to identify
afterwards the problematic situations. They are often caused by
the lack of interconnection between physics and problematic
tasks of future students’ careers. The formation of the idea of
solving physics tasks can be implemented within the compre-
hensive project. Initially, students carry out their particular
projects, and then they turn them into the complete and united
one. The development, presentation and project evaluation
occurs with the direct participation of physics teacher and
teachers of specialized disciplines (specific departments). The
implementation of the proposed procedure can be considered on
the example of the problem of thermal imaging (control) in the
electricity industry. It should be noted that classroom time for
studying the topic "Thermal radiation", which is the basis for
thermal control, it is often not enough. Therefore, student
projects include an independent studying of the laws of thermal
radiation as the basis for thermal imaging. After this, students
learn the mechanism and principle of operation of the thermal
Change in the effective surface temperature of the body cor-
responds to the details of the visually observed pattern, so
created by thermal imager visible analogue of the thermal im-
age in pseudocolors may have a resemblance with an observed
object, which is important for an objective analysis of the
threats posed by defects in different instruments, devices and
equipment. Based on the analysis, students make the following
calculations. For example, from the temperature of fuses,
measured by the thermal imager, their factory sizes, the initial
resistance and the type of material (taking into account temper-
ature coefficients for the different temperature ranges) it is
possible to calculate total and specific resistance of the fuse and
the energy of thermal radiation. Further, the obtained values are
compared with the parameters of the limiting material melting
states, taking into account the thermal losses. For insulators the
thermal conductivity can be determined and if it decreases, the
possibility of leakage currents should be revealed.
Individual projects developed by students are incorporated
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
into a single, integrative macro-project on thermal control in the
electricity industry. Project work is completed after report on
the student conferences of various levels. Team of students
performing macro-project may offer fellow students to answer
test items on their report (after acceptance of tests with the
teacher), thereby encouraging them to participate actively in the
Working within the projects increases the level of under-
standing and mastering of theoretical material. Students report
in the form of presentations, calculation programs, calculations
and animated demonstrations shows acquired competencies and
create a motivation framework for future professional activities.
Motivating students to the professional activities is assessed
by the goals, which students of engineering specialties try to
achieve within the projects, which methods they choose, what
inspires them.
Level I (low) is characterized by few positive motives for the
future professional career. Basically, it is such motives as
avoiding inconvenience, discomfort or narrowly personal. Cog-
nitive interests are amorphous, situational.
Level II (intermediate) is when there is an interest to the fu-
ture professional activities, all the positive motives are related
only to the productive side, are focused on the success,
achievement of results, and studying process in this case serves
as a means towards this end.
Level III (high) implies the formation of all components,
when the motivation is clear and the directivity of cognitive
motives is stable.
To assess the current level of theoretical material mastering
were used the results of the exams of all studied sections of the
physics course. The level of formation of professional-
ly-oriented design skills was assessed with taking into account
the abilities to analyze problem situations, to get new informa-
tion for solving the problem, to choose way and methods of
solving the problem and the ability to work in teams. The anal-
ysis shows a tendency of increasing the level of theoretical
material mastering, the level of formation of professional-
ly-oriented design skills, motivation level to the professional
activity, when using the described scheme of training.
Thus, the proposed model was tested with students of spe-
cialty "Electrical Power Systems and Networks" in TPU and
confirms the increased levels of interest among students of
engineering specialties in acquiring new knowledge and moti-
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