July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Educational Research and Methods
Engineering is both a social and technical discipline, and engineering students encounter the social aspects of engineering work in a variety of education and internship contexts. These education and internship experiences inform engineering students’ beliefs about the social aspects of engineering work and thus influence the practice and outcomes of their work. To better understand the variety of beliefs that engineering students may possess about the social aspects of engineering work, we conducted interviews with 30 upperclassmen engineering students. Participants were provided with eight statements related to the social and technical aspects of engineering work. They were then asked to pick two statements that aligned most with their experiences and two that aligned less well. Focusing on the social elements that students discussed, fifteen out of 30 participants selected “Engineering is a social discipline” as aligning less well with their experiences, in part because they interpreted “social” to be about social bonding and felt that it was separate from, and unnecessary to, effective collaboration. Seventeen out of 30 participants also selected “Engineering is a team discipline” as a statement that aligned well with their experiences and identified collaboration and communication as core aspects of engineering work. Discussions of other social aspects of engineering, such as engaging with stakeholders, collaborating with users, or considering the societal implications of engineering work, were relatively limited. Understanding engineering students’ beliefs about the social aspects of engineering work based on their previous experiences can help us better align engineering curricula to promote more holistic and inclusive views of engineering.
Loweth, R. P., & Daly, S. R., & Paborsky, L., & Hoffman, S. L., & Skerlos, S. J. (2021, July), “You Could Take 'Social' Out of Engineering and Be Just Fine”: An Exploration of Engineering Students' Beliefs About the Social Aspects of Engineering Work Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36539
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