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A Philosophy of Learning Engineering and a Native American Philosophy of Learning; An Analysis for Congruency

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Diversity Redefined: Nontraditional Views in Traditional Environments

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.84.1 - 24.84.26



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Paper Authors

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Chrissy Hobson Foster Arizona State University


Shawn S. Jordan Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus Orcid 16x16

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Shawn Jordan, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering at Arizona State University. He is the PI on three NSF-funded projects: CAREER: Engineering Design Across Navajo Culture, Community, and Society (EEC 1351728), Might Young Makers be the Engineers of the Future? (EEC 1329321), and Broadening the Reach of Engineering through Community Engagement (BRECE) (DUE 1259356). He is also Co-PI on one NSF-funded project: Should Makers be the Engineers of the Future? (EEC 1232772), and is senior personnel on an NSF-funded grant entitled Workshop: I-Corps for Learning (i-Corps-L). He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Education (2010) and M.S./B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University, and as a qualitative researcher studies both STEM and informal engineering education. As an educator, he founded and led a team to two collegiate National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest championships, and has co-developed the STEAM Machines™ / “Rube Goldbergineering” program over the past 6 years to expose middle and high school students to the engineering design process.

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A Philosophy of Learning Engineering and a Native American Philosophy of Learning; An Analysis for CongruencyThe quality of engineering is affected by diversity, for diversity is the pathway to the creativityneeded to solve the “wicked” socio-technical problems of the modern day. Underrepresentedgroups in engineering have been targeted by national reports on engineering and engineeringprograms to increase the minority groups’ entry to and retention in engineering. However, theNative American population remains one of the most severely underrepresented groups inengineering, and yet may offer a unique perspective to solving engineering problems due to adistinct Native worldview. A problem for students with a traditional Native worldview is thatmany report feeling alienated from science and engineering due to the universalist view in whichscience and engineering is often taught. Engineering programs must be developed to supportalternative ways of knowing through curriculum that is culturally responsive. The long-term goalof this study is to determine how a culturally-responsive engineering curriculum might bedeveloped for the Navajo K-12 classroom. A first step to this study is determining how learningwithin a Navajo framework might fit with the philosophy of learning engineering. The Navajoframework can be established through the Dine philosophy of learning, called the DineEducational Philosophy, which is the foundation for learning in Navajo K-12 and highereducation schools. Philosophies of learning are sets of beliefs and ideas about how learningshould take place. This includes ideas about what content should be learned, how students shouldlearn it, how the teacher should support learning, and so on. This paper represents an endeavor ofphilosophical inquiry, where the question of what is Navajo education is explored and howengineering education can compliment it is analyzed. Such an approach is key to critiquing themodes of education, identifying the overlap and core differences between the modes, and will beuseful to transform engineering education into a field that has strength through its access tocultural diversity.

Foster, C. H., & Jordan, S. S. (2014, June), A Philosophy of Learning Engineering and a Native American Philosophy of Learning; An Analysis for Congruency Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--19976

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