New Orleans, Louisiana
February 20, 2022
February 20, 2022
July 20, 2022
Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions
Background: Given the omnipresent race, class, and gender inequities within the field of engineering and U.S. society as a whole, engineering education can play a crucial role in disrupting these patterns. However, various cultural norms of engineering education hinder strides toward equity and liberative praxis. First, it is common for undergraduate engineering education to promote neutrality and technocracy, perpetuating the false claim that engineering is a politically neutral and objective profession rather than preparing students to leverage the power and politics inscribed in their work. Further, engineering programs often foster oppressive environments for historically underrepresented engineering students and an uncritical belief in meritocracy that impedes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. In order to achieve transformative change within engineering and society more broadly, it is critical to understand the existing and potential interventions that can disrupt these inequitable patterns.
Purpose: In this interpretive review paper, we review curricular and co-curricular methodologies that have been leveraged to challenge the hegemonic culture of engineering education. We utilize a conceptual framework that defines minor reform, major reform, and beyond reform theories of change as three levels of framing oppression in engineering education and the ways in which challenging oppression is approached based on the respective diagnoses.
Methodology: We review engineering education literature that discusses the implementation of curricula, pedagogical strategies, or co-curricular programs that aim to disrupt normative engineering culture. We categorize these initiatives as minor reform, major reform, or beyond reform theories of change based on their approach to addressing oppression in engineering education and society. In our interpretive discussion, we highlight the possibilities and limitations of each strategy.
Findings: In our analysis, we classify co-curricular support programs for minority students as minor reform theories of change, because these efforts have the capacity to build marginalized students’ confidence that may be torn down by the oppressive meritocratic systems in engineering but do not push institutions to make changes to their underlying structures that maintain oppression. Next, we classify social justice education and liberative pedagogy as major reform theories of change. These approaches center macro-ethical considerations and upend traditional classroom dynamics, but it is unclear how the structures of the engineering discipline or the educational institution itself are problematized through these strategies. Finally, we classify action-oriented education and organizing as major reform theories of change, because these initiatives provide space for students to develop sociopolitical skills and implement this knowledge through practice.
Implications: The possibilities and limitations of the strategies we reviewed indicate a need to develop collaborative, multi-pronged methodologies in order to transcend the limitations of individual stakeholder positions and abilities, and in turn, create more lasting and meaningful change. Working toward a beyond reform intervention, we are currently piloting an equity-centered, action-oriented co-curricular program that aims to provide space for undergraduate engineering students as they identify and combat oppression in engineering education through scholarship and praxis.
Bond-Trittipo, B., & Valle, J., & Secules, S., & Green, A. (2022, February), Challenging the Hegemonic Culture of Engineering: Curricular and Co-Curricular Methodologies Paper presented at 2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity) , New Orleans, Louisiana. https://peer.asee.org/39106
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