New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering
In this talk it is proposed that the current focus on problems in engineering education and technological literacy may be more constructively reframed by focusing on tensions. Priyan Dias claims engineering has an identity crisis that arises from tensions inherent in: 1) the influence of the profession on society, 2) the role engineers play, and 3) what constitutes valid knowledge in engineering. These are ethical, ontological, and epistemological tensions respectively, which Dias frames as a tension between identities of homo sapiens and homo faber. Beyond the tensions in engineering there are additional tensions that arise for engineering educators that impinge on identity, but derive from educators’ beliefs about the aims of education and beliefs about teaching. With respect to the aims of engineering education the tension arises between utilitarian and humanistic aims and plays out through debates about the importance of diversity (inclusion vs. professionalization), discussion of which courses should be included in a curriculum, and the long simmering debate on four year vs. five year engineering degrees in the United States. Tensions that arise from beliefs about teaching are seen in the discussions on the relative merits of summative vs. formative assessment, student- vs. instructor-centered learning, and the relative merits of inquiry-based and active learning. Given that one aspect of the identity of an engineering education is being a problem solver, faculty may perceive these tensions as a problem or conflict to be solved. An alternative view is to see tensions as both necessary and generative. Tensions are necessary since they are a natural part of human affairs and generative in that tensions highlight dialectics from which new truths or perspectives emerge. From this perspective a key element of faculty development is developing a defensible personal philosophy that both lets one navigate and learn from the inevitable tensions that will arise in practice and contribute to larger dialogs from which new systems and forms of education emerge.
Cheville, A., & Heywood, J. (2016, June), From Problem Solvers to Problem Seekers: The Necessary Role of Tension in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26976
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015