Testing the Validity and Reliability of an Instrument Measuring Engineering Students' Perceptions of Transversal Competency Levels

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Contribution: This study reports on a reliable and valid instrument that measures engineering students' perceptions of their competency levels. A better understanding of students' needs in engineering curricula will support the development of engineering students' transversal competencies. Background: Prior research has investigated how engineering students perceive competency levels in transversal competencies. However, limitations in the competency definition, psychometric properties, and generalizability were found. Research questions: 1) What is the reliability and validity of the competency level instrument? and 2) what are the transversal competency level perceptions of engineering Bachelor and Master students? Methodology: A questionnaire consisting of 36 transversal competencies was designed based on an existing industry model and administered to 1087 engineering Bachelor and Master students from the University of Technology, The Netherlands. Validity and reliability were tested through exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and Cronbach's alpha. Findings: EFA resulted in five scales with reliable Cronbach's alpha values. CFA demonstrated a good model fit for the five-factor model with 25 items. Students perceived they are most competent in teamwork and lifelong learning competencies and less competent in entrepreneurial competencies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9238030
Pages (from-to)180-186
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Competency level measurement
  • engineering education
  • reliability
  • student perception
  • survey
  • transversal competencies and validity


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