Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Negotiating cultural humility: First-year engineering students' development in a life-long journey
by Groll, Lorie, Ph.D., Purdue University, 2013, 178; 3591226
Abstract (Summary)

One of the most sought after abilities in matriculating engineering students is the ability to negotiate cultural differences and build sustainable partnerships with others. This core attribute of the National Academy of Engineers' Engineer of 2020 is one of the least researched areas in engineering education literature. The ABET Engineering Accreditation Committee requires engineering programs to addresses this need in student outcomes "(g) an ability to communicate effectively, (h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context, and (i) a recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in life-long learning". The essential learning outcomes of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) requires that graduating students be able to use practical and intellectual skills to address contemporary and enduring issues with a core component of this being the ability to communicate with diverse others to negotiate shared meanings. These qualities are foundational requirements for engineers' sustained participation in the diverse, multinational workforce where teaming, design, and innovation are imperative.

Current research efforts in this area use a cacophony of terms to describe these qualities within the engineering education literature. This creates silos of research and inhibits collaborative conversations. This research seeks to negotiate shared meaning through the following two goals to aid in quieting the din. 1) To offer a term with generative promise for the inclusive practice of engineering. 2) To provide a multi-dimensional portrait of the ways first-year engineering students communicate and make meaning around cultural differences. The first goal is considered through the lens of Politically Attentive Relational Constructionism. This research explores terms and associated theories by considering their histories and the opportunities they offer for the inclusive practice of engineering. Generative promise of the terms was considered based upon how they accounted for the communicative nature of understanding of otherness, the relational nature of the negotiation of meaning, the political nature of encounters with cultural others, the historical and socio-cultural context of encounters, and whether these attributes are considered in the context of a bio-psycho-socio-cultural developmental continuum. The term cultural humility defined as "the lifelong, geopolitically situated, developmental process of negotiating cultural difference in the creation of sustainable, mutually beneficial as defined by all participants, partnerships" has the most opportunity for educational practices. The second goal is reached by taking a mixed-methods approach to locate first-year engineering students within the developmental continuum. The quantitative portrait of first-year students used both the Miville-Guzman Universality-Diversity Scale - Short (M-GUDS-s) and the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). IDI results revealed that first-year students as a cohort are in polarization. The qualitative montage provides an understanding of how first-year students communicate their experiences with cultural others using polarizing and minimizing language. Collectively these studies establish a starting point from which engineering educators can begin a collaborative effort in creating evidence based practices to engage first-year students in this lifelong process.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Reed-Rhoads, Teri
Commitee: Buzzanell, Patrice, Cox, Monica, Imbrie, P.K., Pawley, Alice
School: Purdue University
Department: Engineering Education
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-B 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Engineering, Higher education
Keywords: Cultural humility, Diversity, First-year engineering, Global competency, Inclusive engineering, Intercultural sensitivity
Publication Number: 3591226
ISBN: 978-1-303-31774-3
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