Sustainability and social responsibility: Assessing engineering students’ consideration of context

Format: Workshop
Facilitators: Cynthia J. Atman, Deborah Kilgore, and Ken Yasuhara
Affiliations: Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching University of Washington, US
Abstract:Today’s engineering challenges are global in scope and consequence, and require a broad vision that includes not only application of technical and logistical knowledge, but also an understanding of the complexities, obstacles, and opportunities presented on the world stage. Natural environments, economies, cultures and sociopolitical structures, the needs and interests of individuals and communities, and other contextual factors all must be taken into account in designing for a better world.

The Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching at the University of Washington has been engaged in a long program of research and practice on considering context. We have examined how students consider context in engineering and have translated some findings into pedagogical approaches to curriculum and program development. Toward our overarching goal of helping students grow as engineers who are contextually aware and socially responsible, we are currently developing techniques to assess student learning with respect to sustainability and societal context.

We propose to conduct an interactive workshop in which participants engage in an assessment problem, discuss research findings about students who responded to the same problem, and provide concrete suggestions for evaluating contextual competence in engineering for a better, more just world in the years to come.