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Teaching, Education, Engineering, and Technological Literacy

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

The Philosophy of Engineering and Technological Literacy

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1493.1 - 26.1493.13



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Paper Authors


John Heywood Trinity College, Dublin

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John Heywood is a professorial Emeritus of Trinity College Dublin-The university of Dublin where he was Director of Teacher Education. he is a Fellow of ASEE and a Life Senior Member of IEEE. he is the award winning author of Engineeringing Education: Research and Development in Curriculum and Instruction.

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Teaching, Education, Engineering and Technological LiteracyIn 2007 James Trevelyan argued on the basis of studies of the work that engineers do that theengineering curriculum required to pay more attention to the development of what have cometo be known as “soft skills”, as for example communication and the ability to performeffectively in teams. He noted that engineering courses that taught communication coursestreated communication “only as information transfer” when what was required was acomprehensive development of social interaction skills. H e thought that this could beachieved if students were given the opportunity to teach in their courses because “education,like engineering practice, relies on special kinds of social interactions reflecting thespecialized knowledge that defines the context”. He argued that students should be trained toteach because they also learn when they have to explain to “others using such methods ascooperative learning and peer instruction. One interpretation of his model of teaching is thatof the “teacher as explainer”. While not disputing the benefits that might accrue from hisapproach it is argued here that substantial prior training may lead to more effective learningexchanges.It is further argued that students may benefit more if they have to teach an unfamiliar subjectand the training may be linked to the preparation, implementation and evaluation of classes inthat subject. Possibly the most effective way of achieving an understanding of the skillsinvolved transfer to engineering is by cooperative education in which one of the experiencesis in a school. However, while there are other pathways to achieving the same goal it is notthe purpose of this paper to advocate any one way but to illustrate potential that thecognitively adjacent subject of Technological and Engineering Literacy has to offerRecent discussions about the nature of technological and engineering literacy reveal that thetopic covers a wide range thought and practice ranging from the sociology of the impact oftechnology on society to the engineering of artefacts. In consequence there are severalaudiences that may be addressed, as for example children who are technologically but notphilosophically literate or, those adults that need a form of vocational education to enhancetheir life skills. A student in this area has therefore to ask philosophical questions about theaims of education and the purpose of technological and engineering literacy, the purpose ofwhich is to encourage a philosophical disposition and reflective capacity without which acurriculum cannot be planned. Given such a curriculum the student is then able to bringunderstandings derived from educational practice to the design and implementation oflessons. It is shown that much of what happens in managing the classroom situation isrelevant to the practice of management. Training for such teaching may be accomplishedconcurrently after a basic induction.

Heywood, J. (2015, June), Teaching, Education, Engineering, and Technological Literacy Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24830

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