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In Search of Meaning and Identity: An Autoethnography of a Graduate Student Navigating the Field of Engineering Education

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Conference

2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Graduate Student Experience

Tagged Divisions

Graduate Studies and Student

Page Count

8

Page Numbers

25.756.1 - 25.756.8

DOI

10.18260/1-2--21513

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/21513

Download Count

167

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Paper Authors

biography

Richard J. Aleong Queen's University

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Richard Aleong is a master's of applied science candidate in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His research interests are in engineering design, qualitative research methodology, and teaching and learning in higher education.

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Abstract

Enhancing Design Thinking through Reflective Practice: An Autoethnography of a Graduate Student Navigating the Field of Engineering EducationFor many students pursuing undergraduate and post-graduate studies, their curriculum involvesfollowing traditional paths set by academia to meet the requirements of their program. Whileacademic institutions offer rich learning environments filled with opportunities, it is important torecognize that the true value in one’s degree comes from the value that one creates in his or herexperience at school—whatever that value may be. In other words, the old adage applies: “youonly get what you put in.” Although undergraduate and post-graduate students may be wellpositioned based on the institution’s curriculum, students should be critical of their educationunder the guidance of the school. If students wish to truly embrace the espoused values ofacademic institutions and develop into self-directed lifelong learners, students should seek toextend their learning beyond the institution’s curriculum. However, the necessary will and skillfor this transformation may not always be explicit. To support undergraduate and graduatestudents in becoming self-directed lifelong learners, it may be worthwhile for institutions toteach the requisite skills and attitudes explicitly—that could serve as a framework on which tobuild other learning. This paper serves two objectives to help undergraduate and post-graduatestudents develop as lifelong learners and future engineers: 1) to share my experience as agraduate student studying in the interdisciplinary field of engineering education and 2) to showhow learning about education has enhanced my competencies as an engineer.In the educational setting, a holistic curriculum strives to balance the elements of subject matter,society, and the individual. In this paper, I adopt a broad definition of curriculum that considersall experiences undertaken by a student in pursuit of a learning objective. With an understandingof curriculum development, students can effectively design their own curriculum to meet theirindividual learning objectives. Although my institution does not currently have a formalengineering education research program, I have strived to build a personal curriculum tooptimize my learning experience. This paper will present my growth as a student navigating thefield of engineering education. Through an autoethnographic study using my personal narrativesand reflective journal notes as my sources of information, I will analyze and make explicit mytacit learning in developing my engineering education curriculum. Through my reflectivepractice, I will show how learning about education itself has supported my own learning andcompetence as an engineer.There is a great deal of pride in achieving an undergraduate and post-graduate degree. Thispaper offers insight from a graduate student perspective to help students make the most of theirlearning experiences.

Aleong, R. J. (2012, June), In Search of Meaning and Identity: An Autoethnography of a Graduate Student Navigating the Field of Engineering Education Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21513

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