Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Engineering Knowledge and Student Development: An Institutional and Pedagogical Critique of Engineering Education
by Tang, Xiaofeng, Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2014, 270; 3684113
Abstract (Summary)

Educators have recommended the integration of engineering and the liberal arts as a promising educational model to prepare young engineers for global economic, environmental, sociotechnical, and ethical challenges. Drawing upon philosophy of technology, engineering studies, and educational psychology, this dissertation examines diverse visions and strategies for integrating engineering and liberal education and explores their impacts on students' intellectual and moral development. Based on archival research, interviews, and participant observation, the dissertation presents in-depth case studies of three educational initiatives that seek to blend engineering with the humanities, social sciences, and arts: Harvey Mudd College, the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, and the Programs in Design and Innovation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The research finds that learning engineering in a liberal arts context increases students' sense of "owning" their education and contributes to their communication, teamwork, and other non-technical professional skills. In addition, opportunities for extensive liberal arts learning in the three cases encourage some students to pursue alternative, less technocentric approaches to engineering. Nevertheless, the case studies suggest that the epistemological differences between the engineering and liberal arts instructors help maintain a technical/social dualism among most students. Furthermore, the dissertation argues a "hidden curriculum," which reinforces the dominant ideology in the engineering profession, persists in the integrated programs and prevents the students from reflecting on the broad social context of engineering and critically examining the assumptions upheld in the engineering profession.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Winner, Langdon
Commitee: Akera, Atsushi, Nieusma, Dean, Riley, Donna
School: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Department: Science and Technology Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 76/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Educational sociology, Social research, Science education, Education philosophy
Keywords: Engineering and liberal arts, Engineering education, Engineering studies, Liberal education, Technocracy
Publication Number: 3684113
ISBN: 9781321589016
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