Engineers of the future: Integrating professional competences via PAL


  • Ann Nestor
  • Lynn Van den Broeck



Higher education institutions increasingly acknowledge their responsibility to guide students, both in their career development and academic growth (Burke, Scurry, Blenkinsopp & Graley, 2017; National Academy of Engineering. 2018), so recognising the impact of (co-)curricular activities on professional competences is crucial (Kinoshita, Young & Knight. 2015). This research looks into the students’ perspective on the development of professional competences as a Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) tutor. In total, 27 tutors participated in the PAL programme of the Faculty of Engineering Technology (FET), KU Leuven (Belgium). The process included didactic and pedagogical training which prepared the tutors for their educational tasks. Via intermediate and final group discussions, hindrances and opportunities were discussed and tackled. Finally, an online individual questionnaire shed light on the competences indicated. Tutors and tutees indicated many benefits of PAL for their learning activities, such as fostering the ability to communicate clearly and cooperate better. To conclude, we need to keep giving students the possibility to develop their competences via different types of (co-)curricular activity to ensure student involvement and maintain high-quality education.