Engineering education has long sought to incorporate greater diversity into engineering programs to prepare the profession to meet the engineering challenges of society. Increasing or retaining the conative diversity of engineering programs may help extend other kinds of diversity in the profession as well (Marburger, 2004). One measure of conation is the Kolbe ATM index.
Kolbe ATM is an index developed by Kathy Kolbe to measure the conative traits on an individual. The index assigns each individual a value in four categories, or Action Modes, that indicates their level of insistence on a scale of 1 to 10 in that Action Mode (Kolbe, 2004). The four Action Modes are:
• Fact Finder – handling of information or facts
• Follow Thru – need to pattern or organize
• Quick Start – management of risk or uncertainty
• Implementor – interaction with space or tangibles
The Kolbe A (TM) index assigns each individual a value that indicates their level of insistence with 1-3 representing resistant, preventing problems in a particular Action Mode; 4-6 indicating accommodation, flexibility in a particular Action Mode; and 7-10 indicating insistence in an Action Mode, initiating solutions in that Action Mode (Kolbe, 2004).
To promote retention of conative diversity, this study examines conative diversity in two engineering student populations, a predominately freshmen population at Chandler Gilbert Community College and a predominately junior population at Arizona State University. Students in both population took a survey that asked them to self-report their GPA, satisfaction with required courses in their major, Kolbe ATM conative index, and how much their conative traits help them in each of the classes on the survey. The classes in the survey included two junior level classes at ASU, Engineering Business Practices and Structural Analysis; as well as four freshmen engineering classes, Physics Lecture, Physics Lab, English Composition, and Calculus I.
This study finds that student satisfaction has no meaningful correlation with student GPA.
The study also finds that engineering programs have a dearth of resistant Fact Finders from the freshmen level on and losses resistant Follow Thrus and insistent Quick Starts as time progresses. Students whose conative indices align well with the structure of the engineering program tend to consider their conative traits helpful to them in their engineering studies. Students whose conative indices misalign with the structure of the program report that they consider their strengths less helpful to them in their engineering studies.
This study recommends further research into the relationship between satisfaction with major and conation and into perceived helpfulness of conative traits by students. Educators should continue to use Kolbe A (TM) in the classroom and perform further research on the impacts of conation on diversity in engineering programs.