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Cyclical models are often used to describe how students learn and develop. These models usually focus on the cognitive domain and describe how knowledge and skills are learned within a course or classroom. By providing insights into how students learn and thus how an instructor can support learning, these models and the schemas drawn from them also influence beliefs about learning and thus how educational programs are designed and developed. In this paper the authors present an alternative cyclical model of learning that is drawn from a philosophy of enactivism rather than rational dualism. In comparison with the dualism inherent in viewpoints derived from Descartes where learners construct internal mental representation from inputs received from the external world, in enactivism development occurs through continual dynamic interactions between an agent and their environment. Enactivism thus emphasizes the role environments play in learning and development. The model developed in this paper hypothesizes that the environment in which learning typically occurs can be represented by three elements: the learner’s identity and culture which informs personally significant goals and values; the affordances a degree program offers in areas of knowledge, identity, and context which informs the capabilities of the environment; and the implicit andmore »
In summarizing the state of engineering education in the United States the 1918 Mann Report articulated a vision for engineering as “harmonizing the conflicting demands of technical skill and liberal education” and the engineer “not as a conglomeration of classical scholarship and mechanical skill, but as the creator of machines and the interpreter of their human significance, well qualified to increase the material rewards of human labor and to organize industry for the more intelligent development of men.” While later reports shifted the direction of degree programs, elements of the vision articulated in the Mann report remain defining characteristics of an engineering education. The focus on industry emphasizes current, contingent, and contextualized knowledge while synthesis of technical, organizational, and liberal forms of knowing and doing remains a strong theme in engineering education. Engineering, however, is not the only discipline to address such issues. Management, teaching, and medicine also educate people for practice and must continually engage with a changing world to remain relevant. In this paper it is hypothesized that degree programs in these disciplines confront, with varying degrees of success, a tension between providing the knowledge needed to act and inculcating the ability in students to act spontaneously andmore »
oday’s engineering students face a very different world than their predecessors. As engineering has adapted to a more global and interconnected economy, the issues that face today’s engineers have become more complex. In a highly networked world notions of the impact of an engineer’s actions on others, the basis for moral and ethical behavior, also become more complex. The definition of complex here captures higher-order and emergent behaviors, situations that can change rapidly, limitations to predictability, and behavior arising from interactions rather than innate to components. While ethics has remained central to engineering education and in general has retained its deontological basis, the ideas the serve as the basis for engineering ethics have changed over time and can be expected to change in the future. The fact that the future ethical challenges that engineering students will face will be distributed and complex while most engineering curricula focus on simplified systems and decisions indicates emerging challenges for effectively addressing engineering ethics within the curriculum. Frameworks that distinguish simple and complicated from complex systems—in which outcomes are more uncertain—emphasize that action becomes more important than knowledge. In other words, it is more important to do what is right, even if one’s actionsmore »