Development in freshman engineering students' emotional intelligence in project-based courses

Tanju Deveci, Roger Nunn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Scopus citations


    It is no longer argued that technical skills alone are sufficient to be a successful engineer; certain softskills are also now considered to be essential. Engineers are expected to possess interpersonal skills and be able to work efficiently in teams. This is facilitated by their intrapersonal communication competencies, one of which is skillful use of emotional intelligence (EI). Engineering education, therefore, needs to devote time and energy to improving students' EI. To this end, this study was aimed at identifying engineering students' development of EI as a result of their participation in project-based courses at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, UAE. One hundred freshman students participated in the study, with a mean age of 18. Data were collected using the Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale (Schutte & Malouff, 1998) and semi-structured interviews with fifteen of the students. Results revealed that almost half of the students (46%) increased their EI scores at a statistically significant level, which was mainly caused by enhancement in their perceptions of emotion, utilization of emotion, and managing others' emotions. Gender was not found to be a significant factor predicting EI development. We found that the holistic nature of project-based learning in the courses appeared to be the main reason for the increase in the students' EI scores. We therefore recommend that instructional design (especially for engineering education) should incorporate more EI-specific learning experiences and we argue that project-based learning is an effective approach for integrating a range of useful experiences into one course.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)54-92
    Number of pages39
    JournalAsian ESP Journal
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Sep 2016


    • Emotional intelligence
    • Engineering education
    • Project-based learning
    • Softskills


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