What's wrong with engineering education? Comparing and combining a teaching-problematization and a culture-problematization
Doktorsavhandling, 2021

While much has been said about what is wrong with engineering education, the assumptions we make when talking about its problems often remain hidden. One particularly common implicit assumption is that inadequate teaching is the primary antecedent of educational problems. Following such a problematization, efforts to improve engineering education have often centered on developing and spreading better teaching methods. In recent years, however, an alternative assumption has been proposed, locating problems in the culture of engineering education rather than in educational designs. In line with such a problematization, research and reform tasks are significantly broadened.

In this thesis, I interrogate these alternative problematizations and the research that draws on them. I present my own work in two parts, building on case studies and fieldwork. The first part comprises two papers focused on evaluating the pedagogical possibilities of teaching methods positioned as better preparing students for professional practice. The second part comprises three papers focused on how cultural processes facilitate and constrain educational outcomes.

Taken together, the findings illustrate how both teaching methods and cultural processes may serve as barriers to engineering learning, suggesting that researchers and educators alike may do well to combine a focus on teaching with a focus on culture when attending to educational problems. Furthermore, the findings also illustrate that although educational development usually involves making prioritizations between competing educational objectives, value-judgements risk being obscured in talk of educational problems. As such, educators and researchers alike need to develop an aptitude for values-clarification as they take on questions of educational development.

In light of these findings, I argue that there is dual value in adopting a vocabulary of cultural analysis when talking about what is wrong with engineering education. First, such a vocabulary may help to identify leverage points for educational development that otherwise may remain unexplored. Second, such a vocabulary may contribute to talk of educational development becoming more open to critical deliberation.

higher education pedagogy

discourse analysis

engineering culture

educational reform

engineering education research

engineering education

entrepreneurship education

teaching methods

ethnography

Vasa A
Opponent: Jette Egelund Holgaard, Aalborg University, Denmark

Författare

Oskar Hagvall Svensson

Chalmers, Vetenskapens kommunikation och lärande, Avdelningen för ingenjörsutbildningsvetenskap (EER)

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While much has been said about what is wrong with engineering education, the assumptions we make when we talk about educational problems often remain hidden. This is the case for teachers and researchers alike. One thing is clear, however: when talking about how engineering education can develop, we usually focus on using better teaching methods in order to get more learning. In this thesis, I interrogate the idea that inadequate teaching methods is what primarily stands between us and good engineers. Simultaneously, I explore an alternative hypothesis, that cultural patterns within engineering education is as much to blame – if not more – in producing educational problems. Through sharing my research undertaken in a number of different engineering classrooms, I show how both teaching methods and cultural processes may serve as barriers to engineering learning. This means that if we engineering education researchers want to help in improving engineering education, we may do well to shift our focus from teaching methods to also investigate local patterns of social interaction and shared ways of thinking. Furthermore, if we want to facilitate a more transparent discussion about educational development, we would do well to clarify the value-judgements we make when talking about what we think is wrong with engineering education.

Ämneskategorier

Didaktik

Utbildningsvetenskap

Lärande

Pedagogik

Lärande och undervisning

Pedagogiskt arbete

ISBN

978-91-7905-591-2

Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 5058

Utgivare

Chalmers tekniska högskola

Vasa A

Opponent: Jette Egelund Holgaard, Aalborg University, Denmark

Mer information

Senast uppdaterat

2021-11-22