June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the importance of philosophy in discussions of technological literacy, and to point out that actionable definitions of technological literacy are not possible without philosophy. Technological literacy has been broadly conceived as relating to the designed world, which exists in conjunction with the natural and social worlds. Definitions of technology tacitly include the social world since social institutions produce technologies, governments regulate them, and engineers design them. Within this broad sphere, however, there are competing definitions of technological literacy that confuse the issue of how to best develop technological literacy in students through education. When one also considers engineering literacy, scientific literacy, and information literacy and the more recent push for economic and media literacy, these confusions are magnified.
To make sense of the many definitions of technological literacy it helps to look broadly at the groups that promote them. Each group has an explicit or tacit epistemology, and considering the definitions that arise from these views help to illuminate the underlying aims and objectives of teaching technological or engineering literacy. Here we briefly look at five perspectives: understanding technology in society, training students to manage technology in their lives, the need to have a technically literate workforce, philosophy of technology, and engineering. While each viewpoint has underlying aims and philosophies, the perspective of understanding technology in society provides a sufficiently expansive view so that meaningful problems can be posed and addressed by students. We explore some of the problems this view suggests and find that technological literacy can be taught as a transdisciplinary area of study (science, technology, and society programs), an area of philosophical inquiry (philosophy of technology), or in ways that organize inquiry across disciplines so students develop a personal philosophy.
Cheville, R. A., & Heywood, J. (2017, June), The Philosophical Foundations of Technological and Engineering Literacy Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28992
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