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The Challenge: The Role of the Student in Engineering and Technological Literacy Programs, Perspectives, Discussions, and Ideations

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

TELPhE Division Technical Session 1: Expanding Technological and Engineering Literacies

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

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Paper Authors

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Neelam Prabhu Gaunkar Iowa State University of Science and Technology


Sara Kaye Jones

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Sara Jones has a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University. She currently works as a certification engineer in the aviation sector.

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Mani Mina Iowa State University of Science and Technology

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Mani Mina is with the department of Industrial Design and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. He has been working on better understanding of students' learning and aspects of technological and engineering philosophy and literacy. In particular how such literacy and competency are reflected in curricular and student activities. His interests also include Design and Engineering, the human side of engineering, new ways of teaching engineering in particular Electromagnetism and other classes that are mathematically driven. His research and activities also include on avenues to connect Product Design and Engineering Education in a synergetic way.

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In this work, we address the role(s) students play during their education. While the student’s main role is to learn, it is observed that in most classrooms, students approach learning through the lens of the instructor’s vision. The authors have experienced it in Engineering as well as Technological Literacy classes, with some differences. Newer pedagogical approaches and improvements in instruction techniques have expanded this vision. Nonetheless, students who are taking more than a few classes with heavy syllabi tend to focus on finishing the classes with reasonable performance. This is done knowing that it is not the best approach to learning. However, the students end up believing that grades are more important than deeper learning. The pedagogical approaches may have the right approach to include the students’ views and voices to some degree. However, the students’ struggles to survive and to graduate, in many cases, overcomes the students’ autonomy and perspectives in their in-depth learning and ownership of their role as active participants in the class.

Another lacuna is that while the new pedagogical approaches increase student participation, they are yet to tap into the students' actual thoughts and learnings within the classroom (unless the classroom does active learning, and in particular includes reflective practice, and various ways of engagement and sharing of perspectives). This is because students generally tend to communicate what they think the instructor expects of them, rather than their confusions and doubts. To overcome this facade, we believe that students need to be more invested in their learning environment. Inquiry-based learning with elements of reflective activities in a “safe and brave” environment is one such platform where students can communicate their progress and learning and contribute to the classroom learning environment. The instructor needs to make sure students have avenues to share their ideas, critiques, and challenges with the instruction team. It is an approach that makes learning current for both the instructor and student. In this work, we discuss the similarities and differences between how instructors and students view the students’ classroom roles and how recognizing and synthesizing these roles can eventually lead to a collaborative learning environment. We will also discuss some of the similarities and differences between the Technological literacy classes and the engineering ones.

Prabhu Gaunkar, N., & Jones, S. K., & Mina, M. (2021, July), The Challenge: The Role of the Student in Engineering and Technological Literacy Programs, Perspectives, Discussions, and Ideations Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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