June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
23.556.1 - 23.556.18
Deconstructing Graduate Students’ Philosophies of EducationToday’s graduate students represent the next generation of faculty. This particular generation ofgraduate students has participated in a variety of teaching styles and interventions, from lecture-based classes to problem-based learning to technology-centered instruction. As they enterclassrooms as instructors, they may choose to adapt one or more of these methods or derive theirown. These choices are based on a set of beliefs about student learning and teaching, in otherwords, the graduate student’s philosophy of education. This philosophy may be dependent ontheir previous experiences, exposure from a teaching practicum, and/or the values and norms oftheir professional community. While there are many studies related to courses on teaching andlearning methods for graduate students and the subsequent teaching opportunities, research onthe beliefs and experiences of graduate students, particularly in engineering, is limited. With thisin mind, we ask – what do these graduates define as their particular philosophy of education?And what do those philosophies suggest about the future of engineering education?To provide insights into the instructional practices that will dominate engineering education inthe future, an investigation was conducted in the Spring of 2012 to characterize graduatestudents’ philosophies of education. Students from a large, technical, research-intensiveuniversity enrolled in PhD programs within a variety of engineering and non-engineeringdisciplines, including aerospace engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering,mechanical engineering, digital media, psychology, and management, were recruited toparticipate in a survey. The administered survey was based on the Educational PhilosophyInventory, which is a theoretically-grounded instrument. The instrument allowed a respondent’seducational philosophy to be classified as essentialism, perennialism, progressivism, socialreconstructionism, or existentialism based on responses to 28 questions. The EducationalPhilosophy Inventory was supplemented with additional questions to further analyze students’philosophies. For example, students were asked to classify their previous educationalexperiences, as well as their current teaching practices, based on provided descriptions of the fiveeducational philosophies. Data analysis will completed over the coming months to comparegraduate student philosophies based on several independent variables, including discipline,gender, past educational experiences, current teaching practices, and future career goals.Current graduate student educational philosophies foreshadow the types of pedagogies that willbe implemented in future engineering courses, given no formal teaching interventions. Whileeach of the five educational philosophies is theoretically-based, some may be more appropriatefor engineering education than others. For instance, emphasis of progressivists on problemsolving may provide students with critical thinking skills necessary to become successfulengineers, while perennialist approaches of lecture and discussion may teach students aboutfundamental concepts but leave them unequipped to solve complex problems. If graduatestudents prescribe to predominately traditional and conservative philosophies, then perhapsinitiatives are needed to educate graduate students about more contemporary and liberalphilosophies. Thus, examining graduate student educational philosophies can provide importantinsights for ensuring the future quality of engineering education.
Watson, M. K., & Strong, A. C. (2013, June), Examining Graduate Students’ Philosophies of Education: An Exploratory Study Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19570
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