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Ideologies of Depoliticization in Engineering Education: A Mediated Discourse Analysis of Student Presentations in a First-year Projects Course

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Discussions on Research Methodology: ERM Roundtable

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

17

Page Numbers

26.880.1 - 26.880.17

DOI

10.18260/p.24217

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/24217

Download Count

104

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Paper Authors

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Kevin O'Connor University of Colorado Boulder Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-7172-1724

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Kevin O’Connor is assistant professor of Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. His scholarship focuses on human action, communication, and learning as socioculturally organized phenomena. A major strand of his research explores the varied trajectories taken by students as they attempt to enter professional disciplines such as engineering, and focuses on the dilemmas encountered by students as they move through these institutionalized trajectories. He is co-editor of a 2010 National Society for the Study of Education Yearbook, Learning Research as a Human Science. Other work has appeared in Linguistics and Education; Mind, Culture, and Activity; Anthropology & Education Quarterly, the Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science; the Journal of Engineering Education; and the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research. His teaching interests include developmental psychology; sociocultural theories of communication, learning, and identity; qualitative methods; and discourse analysis.

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Frederick A. Peck University of Colorado

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Frederick Peck is a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Education at the University of Colorado.

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Julie Cafarella University of Colorado, Boulder

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Julie Cafarella is a Ph.D. student in Educational Psychology & Learning Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Before moving to Colorado, she worked as a public school teacher in New England. Her current research focuses on issues of access and equity in STEM education.

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Carlye Anne Lauff University of Colorado, Boulder

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Carlye Lauff is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Design. She is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. At the University of Colorado, Boulder, she is advised by Dr. Mark Rentschler and co-advised by Dr. Daria Kotys-Schwartz. For the past two years, she has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant on the NSF-funded project entitled "Cognitive Ethnographies of Engineering Design." In this project, she is studying how design is constructed in different environments to better understand what is needed to ensure successful design projects.

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Daria A Kotys-Schwartz University of Colorado Boulder

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Daria Kotys-Schwartz is the Director of the Idea Forge—a flexible, cross-disciplinary design space at University of Colorado, Boulder. She is also the Design Center Colorado Director of Undergraduate Programs and a Senior Instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She received B.S. and M.S degrees in mechanical engineering 
from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Kotys-Schwartz has focused her research in engineering student learning, retention, and student identity development within the context of engineering design. She is currently investigating the impact of cultural norms in an engineering classroom context, performing comparative studies between engineering education and professional design practices, examining holistic approaches to student retention, and exploring informal learning in engineering education.

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Mark Rentschler University of Colorado at Boulder

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Mark Rentschler received an M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2003 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellow, and a Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, in 2006. He is currently an Assistant Professor and Design Center Colorado Founder/Director of Graduate Programs in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Surgery and an affiliate position in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO. Prior to joining the University of Colorado in 2008, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Division of Vascular Surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, and Senior Engineer and Director of Operations at Virtual Incision Corporation, Boston. His research is focused on medical device and surgical tool design, tissue mechanics characterization and dynamic contact modeling, robotics and mechatronics, and mechanical design education,.

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Jenna McWilliams University of Colorado, Boulder

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Jacob (Jenna) McWilliams is a postdoctoral researcher in the Learning Sciences program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Jacob’s research focuses on issues of gender and sexual diversity in education, and recent work involves developing queer pedagogies for supporting new media literacies practices in the elementary classroom and, most recently, drawing on queer and transgender theory for understanding the dominant discourses of engineering education and how those discourses marginalize and exclude people from traditionally vulnerable gender, sexual, and ethnic groups.

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Abstract

Learning and Identity at the Nexus of Practice: Mediated Discourse Analysis as a Methodology for Engineering Education Research  IntroductionThe objective of this paper, following recent efforts in engineering education scholarshipto advance the methodological breadth and depth of the field (Case & Light, 2011), is tointroduce the methodology of Mediated Discourse Analysis (MDA) into engineeringeducation research. We will outline the conceptual and methodological approach ofMDA, and illustrate the approach with analysis of data from a comparative study ofundergraduate and professional engineering design.Conceptual FrameworkMediated Discourse Analysis is rooted in neo-Vygotskian and critical situative theoriesof learning (Johri, Olds, & O’Connor, 2014), and particularly in Mediated Action (MA)theory (Wertsch, 1998; Wertsch & O’Connor, 1994). Mediated Action theory exploreshow mind is realized in and through action, and how this process is mediated by semioticand material “cultural tools.” This approach takes action, as opposed to eitherindividuals or sociocultural environments, as the fundamental unit of analysis forstudying learning. MDA builds directly on the MA framework, adding specific emphases,first, on the role of discourse as a form of action through which mind, identity, and socialcollectives are realized; and, second, on an ethnographic understanding of the “sites ofengagement” in which action takes place, including the range of semiotic and materialtools that intersect in action. Both frameworks adopt a focus on the “nexus of practice”at which these intersect and are brought concretely into engagement (Scollon,2001). This focus keeps alive the complexity of meanings and practices that bindcommunities together and make up individuals’ identities over time. MDA aims atdeepening our understanding of how sociocultural processes shape and mold people’slives and identities, and is interested in better understanding how discourses, practices,and mediations can constitute opportunities for actions, but also contribute to limitingopportunities for actions.Empirical IllustrationWe illustrate the MDA framework through an analysis of learning and identity in a firstyear engineering projects course. Such courses are often identified as key sites forrecruitment and retention, in that they are taken to build identification by students withthe discipline and profession of engineering at a time prior to the start of engineeringmajor coursework. Our analysis uses MDA to show how processes of identificationhappen, by examining the microdynamics of discourse among participants in the courseagainst the background of ethnographic work in this setting as well as in professionalengineering settings. A specific focus is on how participants bring practices from theirlives outside of engineering into their action within the engineering projects course, howthese outside practices are either endorsed or censured by other participants (both facultyand other students), and the consequences of these for students’ participation in thecourse.ReferencesCase, J., & Light, G. (2011). Emerging methodologies in engineering education research. Journal of Engineering Education, 100 (1), 186–210.  Johri, A., Olds, B.M., and O’Connor, K. (2014). Situative frameworks for engineering learning research. In B. Olds and A. Johri (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research. New York: Cambridge University Press.Scollon, R. (2001). Mediated Discourse: The Nexus of Practice, London: Routledge.Wertsch, J.V. (1998). Mind as action. New York: Oxford.Wertsch, J.V. & O’Connor, K. (1994). Multivoicedness in historical representation: American college students' accounts of the origins of the U.S. Journal of Narrative and Life History, 4, 295-309.  

O'Connor, K., & Peck, F. A., & Cafarella, J., & Lauff, C. A., & Kotys-Schwartz, D. A., & Rentschler, M., & McWilliams, J. (2015, June), Ideologies of Depoliticization in Engineering Education: A Mediated Discourse Analysis of Student Presentations in a First-year Projects Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24217

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: © 2015 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