First-year engineering students' views of the nature of engineering
The changing nature of engineering problems and new challenges that result from globalization and new ways of doing business have triggered calls for a revolutionary shift in engineering education. To respond to these challenges, the engineering education paradigm has been revised by adding more design and humanities/social sciences components to it. Philosophy, sociology, and history of engineering are more often cited as a major part of engineering education in this movement. Research on the nature of engineering (NOE), which is derived from philosophy, sociology, and the history of engineering, could have as much potential impact on engineering education as research on the nature of science (NOS) has had on science education. Thus, it is surprising that there has been no noteworthy research on this topic. The purpose of this study is to describe and determine first-year engineering students’ views of the NOE and how these students differentiate engineering from science.
In this research, an open-ended Views of the Nature of Engineering questionnaire (VNOE) was employed to collect baseline data. Semi-structured interviews based on the VNOE questionnaire were conducted with the second cohort of the participants. Data analysis was guided by a traditional phenomenographic approach, which is a branch of the hermeneutic tradition, coupled to constant comparison technique.
The results of this study indicated that the participants’ overall views of the nature of engineering were not ill-developed, but rather unarticulated. Moreover, the relationship between engineering and science was considered unidirectional rather than bidirectional. The results of this study could be used to inform engineering educators, first-year engineering coordinators, and policy makers as well as serving as the base for further research and potential implications for future first-year and K-12 engineering education.
0727: Curriculum development
0998: Education philosophy