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Work in Progress: Signature Pedagogies in Engineering - Surface Structure

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Understanding the Discipline of Engineering

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


John Tingerthal P.E. Northern Arizona University

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John Tingerthal joined the Construction Management faculty at Northern Arizona University in 2007 and was appointed as a Distinguished Teaching Fellow. His engineering career spans a variety of design and forensic engineering experiences. He spent the first eight years of his career performing structural consulting engineering in Chicago. He earned his Doctorate in Education and is currently the Associate Chair of the Civil Engineering, Construction Management and Environmental Engineering Department. His academic interests lie in the field of discipline-based education. John is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

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Work in Progress - seeking feedback from the community

A signature pedagogy is a specific pedagogical technique that may be unique to a discipline (Gurung, Chick and Haynie, 2009) and that organizes the fundamental ways in which future practitioners are educated for their new professions (Shulman, 2005a). Since disciplines vary in their ways of knowing, thinking and doing (Habits of Mind) and educational practices also vary in their way of teaching and learning. According to Shulman (2005a), signature pedagogies have three dimensions - surface, deep and explicit.

While there is extensive research in the field of engineering education, as evidenced by the number of journals and conferences, a concise definition of the signature pedagogy of engineering has not been articulated.

Specifically, this paper aims to define the signature pedagogy of engineering though an analysis of topics found in handbooks on engineering education, topics presented in engineering education journals and in conference proceedings. Shulman (2005b) notes that it is expected for signature pedagogies to change over time, and thus the literature analysis will be limited to the past five years of publication.

This study uses a grounded theory approach and a method of coding educational practices from the literature to develop the distinction of what is considered a 'signature pedagogy' for engineering.

Gurung et al. (2009) pose the interesting question of whether learning in a discipline actually reflects the ways of thinking and doing of disciplinary experts. The results of this study will inform a larger study which looks at disconnects between the way we teach engineering (signature pedagogy) and how engineers actually function in the discipline (Engineering Habits of Mind or EHoM, Lucas and Hanson, 2014).

Gurung, R. A. R., Chick, N. L., & Haynie, A. (2009). Exploring signature pedagogies: approaches to teaching disciplinary habits of mind (1st ed.). Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub. Retrieved from

Shulman, L. S. (2005a). Signature pedagogies in the professions. Daedalus, 134(3), 52–59. Retrieved from Lucas, B., Hanson, J., & Claxton, G. (2014). Thinking like an engineer Implications for the education system. Retrieved from

Shulman, L. (2005b). The Signature Pedagogies of the Professions of Law , Medicine , Engineering , and the Clergy: Potential Lessons for the Education of Teachers. Lecture, Irvine California.

Tingerthal, J. (2017, June), Work in Progress: Signature Pedagogies in Engineering - Surface Structure Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29178

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