July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Educational Research and Methods
When it comes to engaging with complex, social problems, it is important to be aware of not only what one believes, but also why one believes it. Plus, focusing on beliefs about the cause of a social phenomenon (e.g., what one believes causes inequitable participation of women in engineering) rather than just beliefs about the phenomena itself (e.g., what one believes about the extent to which gender inequity exists in engineering) is an important contribution to broadening participation because one’s causal beliefs relate to their ideas about what needs to happen to make engineering more equitable. In this paper, we describe our use of Thinking as Argument (TaA) as a promising theoretical framework for exploring how engineering educators arrive at their beliefs about the cause of gender-based inequity in engineering. According to TaA, the type of robust argument that is desirable for one to commit to their beliefs about the cause of complex social phenomena includes five distinct components: causal theory, evidence, counterargument, counterevidence, and rebuttal. By conducting interviews about gender-based inequity using TaA, we can explore 1) the ways in which individuals articulate their causal beliefs as arguments of varying sophistication, and 2) the ways in which individuals use evidence to commit to their beliefs. In this contribution, we: describe TaA as a framework, document how we used TaA in a pilot study to inform our ongoing research on engineering faculty’s causal beliefs, and provide initial evidence for TaA theory as a novel methodological contribution for studying beliefs related to equity in engineering. Specifically, our use of TaA revealed that while each participant offered a belief in a system-level cause of gender-based minoritization, there was considerable variation in the ways in which they used evidence to arrive at their beliefs and in their epistemological orientation toward gender-based inequities in engineering. We believe there is value in the use of TaA to study beliefs because ultimately, when we increase our explicit awareness of our commitment to our causal beliefs, we are better able to behave in ways that align with our beliefs and to develop agency to disrupt oppression.
Grifski, J., & Dringenberg, E., & Delpech, D. M. (2021, July), Thinking as Argument: A Theoretical Framework for Studying how Faculty Arrive at Their Deeply-held Beliefs About Inequity in Engineering Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37909
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