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What is Lost When Education is Decomposed into Outcomes? A Critical Look Across Disciplines.

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

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

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38046

Download Count

16

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Paper Authors

biography

Alan Cheville Bucknell University

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Alan Cheville studied optoelectronics and ultrafast optics at Rice University, followed by 14 years as a faculty member at Oklahoma State University working on terahertz frequencies and engineering education. While at Oklahoma State, he developed courses in photonics and engineering design. After serving for two and a half years as a program director in engineering education at the National Science Foundation, he took a chair position in electrical engineering at Bucknell University. He is currently interested in engineering design education, engineering education policy, and the philosophy of engineering education.

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biography

John Heywood Trinity College Dublin

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John Heywood is professorial Fellow Emeritus of Trinity College Dublin- The University of Dublin. he is a Fellow of ASEE and Life Fellow of IEEE. he is an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Ireland. He has special interest in education for the professions and the role of professions in society, and the work of ASEE's TELPhE division from whom he has received a best paper and meritorious service awards. He is author of Engineering Education. Research and Development in Curriculum and Instruction which received an outstanding research publication award from the Division for the Professions of the American educational Research Association. He is also author of The Assessment of Learning in Engineering Education: Practice and Policy; The Human Side of Engineering, and Empowering Professional Teaching in Engineering

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Abstract

In summarizing the state of engineering education in the United States the 1918 Mann Report articulated a vision for engineering as “harmonizing the conflicting demands of technical skill and liberal education” and the engineer “not as a conglomeration of classical scholarship and mechanical skill, but as the creator of machines and the interpreter of their human significance, well qualified to increase the material rewards of human labor and to organize industry for the more intelligent development of men.” While later reports shifted the direction of degree programs, elements of the vision articulated in the Mann report remain defining characteristics of an engineering education. The focus on industry emphasizes current, contingent, and contextualized knowledge while synthesis of technical, organizational, and liberal forms of knowing and doing remains a strong theme in engineering education.

Engineering, however, is not the only discipline to address such issues. Management, teaching, and medicine also educate people for practice and must continually engage with a changing world to remain relevant. In this paper it is hypothesized that degree programs in these disciplines confront, with varying degrees of success, a tension between providing the knowledge needed to act and inculcating the ability in students to act spontaneously and in the right way. This paper explores this tension by looking across these disciplines to identify practices that are believed to be effective in giving students the knowledge and abilities needed to act professionally. The general approach that has emerged is having students actively address problems of varying degrees of difficulty and constraint through techniques such a problem-based learning.

The broad use of problem-centered techniques in disciplines which deal with “the world as it exists now” is to develop a difficult-to-describe characteristic in students – a pervasive mode of being that allows graduates to address challenges and adapt themselves to new situations as need arises. Because this goal is difficult to articulate or measure, it is often described through analogies such as “T-shaped” engineers or the development of professional or transferable skills. Here it is proposed that this objective is achieved by synthesizing diverse lived experiences, a process which is aided by developing forms of transfer that allows experiences developed in one context to be drawn upon effectively in another. Such experiential transfer is likely different than knowledge transfer across disciplinary domains and may be enhanced by supporting the development of goal-based concepts. Furthermore, although this characteristic is often decomposed into discrete educational outcomes such as teamwork or communication, defining and assessing outcomes necessarily emphasizes skill within a domain rather than synthesis across domains. Thus outcomes-based assessment may be counter-productive to developing sought after characteristics of graduates.

Cheville, A., & Heywood, J. (2021, July), What is Lost When Education is Decomposed into Outcomes? A Critical Look Across Disciplines. Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38046

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015