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Overriding Tradition? An Initial Exploration of the Intersection of Institutional and Disciplinary Cultures from the Student Perspective

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Institutional Change

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

19

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30853

Download Count

28

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Paper Authors

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Ashish Agrawal Virginia Tech

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Ashish Agrawal is a PhD candidate in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He did his B-Tech from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee and his MS from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, both in Electric Engineering. His research interests include experiences of international faculty and students in US classrooms, sociology of education, and critical and inclusive pedagogies.

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Cassandra J. Groen Virginia Tech

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Dr. Cassandra Groen is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Engineering Education and the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech. Her primary research interests include professional identity formation in undergraduate civil engineering students, grounded theory methods, and theory development. Her current work includes the exploration of professional identity formation in civil engineering students who experience disabilities and the ways in which this identity is influenced by students’ academic relationships, events, and experiences. Dr. Groen holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

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Amy L. Hermundstad Nave Virginia Tech

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Amy Hermundstad Nave is a doctoral student and Graduate Research Assistant at Virginia Tech. She received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education. Her research interests include the professional development of engineering students through out-of-class activities.

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Lisa D. McNair Virginia Tech

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Lisa D. McNair is a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she also serves as Director of the Center for Research in SEAD Education at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT). Her research interests include interdisciplinary collaboration, design education, communication studies, identity theory and reflective practice. Projects supported by the National Science Foundation include exploring disciplines as cultures, liberatory maker spaces, and a RED grant to increase pathways in ECE for the professional formation of engineers.

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Thomas Martin Virginia Tech

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Tom Martin is a Professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, with courtesy appointments in Computer Science and the School of Architecture + Design. He is the co-director of the Virginia Tech E-textiles Lab and the associate director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. He received his Ph.D. in
Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. His research and teaching interests include wearable computing, electronic textiles, and interdisciplinary design teams for pervasive computing.
In 2006 he was selected for the National Science Foundation's Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his research in e-textile-based wearable computing.

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Marie C. Paretti Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2202-6928

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Marie C. Paretti is a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she co-directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communications Center (VTECC). Her research focuses on communication in engineering design, interdisciplinary communication and collaboration, design education, and gender in engineering. She was awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to study expert teaching in capstone design courses, and is co-PI on numerous NSF grants exploring communication, design, and identity in engineering. Drawing on theories of situated learning and identity development, her work includes studies on the teaching and learning of communication, effective teaching practices in design education, the effects of differing design pedagogies on retention and motivation, the dynamics of cross-disciplinary collaboration in both academic and industry design environments, and gender and identity in engineering.

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Abstract

Prior work has highlighted differences in the nature and structure of knowledge across various academic disciplines. These differences manifest themselves in a number of ways, including teaching and learning practices, methods of assessing student learning, and roles and expectations of students and teachers – all of which influence and shape the culture of a specific discipline within an institution. While prior work has focused on disciplinary and institutional cultures separately, little work has been done to understand how these two cultures intersect to create a unique culture within each academic department. In this exploratory study, we draw on Hofstede’s dimensions of national cultures to better understand the intersections of institutional and disciplinary cultures in shaping students’ experiences. We situate the study within two different engineering disciplines: electrical and computer engineering (ECE) and industrial and systems engineering (ISE). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 59 undergraduate students from six universities across the U.S. Our cross-institutional analysis reveals variations in student perceptions that suggest ways in which local cultures may influence approaches to learning and perceptions of teaching practices locally, indicating that local cultures may override traditional characterizations of engineering disciplines. These emerging findings suggest that changes at departmental and institutional levels can significantly impact students’ experiences of disciplinary practices and values, and challenge the idea of engineering culture as monolithic and immovable. As a result, these local cultures can – and should – play a transformative role in revolutionizing students’ development as engineers.

Agrawal, A., & Groen, C. J., & Hermundstad Nave, A. L., & McNair, L. D., & Martin, T., & Paretti, M. C. (2018, June), Overriding Tradition? An Initial Exploration of the Intersection of Institutional and Disciplinary Cultures from the Student Perspective Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30853

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