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Whither Engineering and Technological Literacy? Cui Bono 2

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Exploration of Broad Issues and Promotion of Engineering and Technological Literacy

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


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 At the 2018 Business meeting of the Technological and Engineering Literacy Division of the American Society for Engineering Education it was agreed that the author would continue to prepare a whitepaper on the future of the Division. As part of his study for the whitepaper the author responded [1] to nine comments in the Division’s fourth handbook [2] on a previously published paper by him on “Why technological literacy and for whom? [3] The principal axiom drawn from this analysis was that “the general aims or purposes of programs in engineering and technological literacy are far from clear, and in so far as they are declared or implicit, are a function of the audience to whom the course or program is directed”. In order to better understand the problem a comparative study with an innovative development in compulsory liberal studies for Diploma in Technology students in the UK has been made as they are roughly analogous. It confirms that any attempt to develop technological literacy as a discipline would require a philosophical base. Without that base technological literacy can only continue to act as an umbrella that allows for content and method to be developed for the different audiences to be served. In this respect TELPhE has significantly failed to consider the needs of the general public. It is evident that within the public there are different audiences with diverse needs, as for example, parents, journalists and teachers. A major problem that has not been investigated is the mathematical skill required by different groups. At the same time TELPhE has sponsored a number of innovations. Recent work suggests that an alternative curriculum may better meet the needs of a general higher education that is responsive to the changes in society being wrought by technology. Since the models that have been developed require different higher education structures TELPhE might consider initiating a substantive inquiry that answers the question - “What structures of higher education do we need to help us live in a technologically dominated society?

Heywood, J. (2020, June), Whither Engineering and Technological Literacy? Cui Bono 2 Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35509

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