Candidate: Alee A. Sleymann
Degree of: Doctor of Philosophy
Committee: Dr. Matthew S. Mingus, Chair
Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 1:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m.
Abstract: This study explored the perceptions of civil engineers regarding continuing professional competency requirements for license renewal. In this study, continuing professional competency is assumed to have a direct relationship to public welfare and safety. The policy of mandatory continuing education (CE) was adopted primarily for this reason. Iowa, in 1979, was the first state to adopt such a policy. Since then, 29 more states have followed suite. It is expected that the rest of the states and territories will also adopt a similar policy. Currently, mandatory continuing education (MCE) is the only method of ensuring continued professional competency, no other method of reassessment has been accepted or proposed by either the professional body or the regulatory boards.
Many professionals, however, have not welcomed this mandatory continuing education policy. The reason for this opposition is the claimed ineffectiveness of this policy in fostering continued competency. In addition, the regulatory boards and policy advocates have not produced data to support that continued professional competency have resulted from mandatory continuing education.
This study was a cross-sectional quantitative type. Primary data was collected using an electronic questionnaire that was emailed to participants. The population of this study consisted mainly of civil engineers and land surveyors. The sampling frame was those engineers who subscribed to the CE News magazine newsletter “CivilConnections”.
The study found that the majority of the professionals viewed MCE positively as having both professional and personal benefits; improved professional practice, increased awareness of current issues and that the training they attended are recommendable to other professionals. Although the attitude towards mandatory continuing education was mostly positive, their attitude towards MCE requirements for licensing renewal was not decisive and the professionals were polarized about the issue with 41% against and 43% for and 16% neutral or undecided. However, slight majority of participants from states that have not yet adopted MCE policy were against such a policy. Regarding the issue of public safety and protection being assured by MCE, the results show that civil engineering professionals do not positively evaluate the MCE‘s impact on maintaining professional competency. The majority of professionals preferred the voluntary continuing education method as a reassessment approach to assuring continued competency. Participants from states with MCE policy were more active in participating than those from other states without the mandating policy.
This study concluded that professional characteristics such as level of education, level of responsibility, field of practice, years of licensing and age of professionals do not influence participation in continuing education.
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