Philosophy, engineering education and the curriculum

Heywood, J. (2008) Philosophy, engineering education and the curriculum. [Conference Proceedings]

Full text not available from this resource.
Official URL:


Recently some leading senior engineering societies have encouraged discussions about the philosophy of engineering that even extend to metaphysics. Authors acting independently have also published substantial papers on the topic. However, little has been written about philosophy and engineering education. The purpose of this discussion is to extend the debate that is emerging in this respect. From the examples given it is argued that just as intending teachers in training are exposed to the philosophy of education so teachers in higher education, in this case engineering, should also be exposed to its study. In short it is argued that engineering educators should have a defensible philosophy of education. The primary focus of the paper is the contribution that philosophy can make to decisions about the curriculum and instruction. The paper begins with a short review of recent developments in the philosophy of engineering. A distinction is made between operational or working philosophy, philosophy and philosophical disposition. Arguments for exposing teachers to the philosophy of education are briefly presented. In considering the curriculum and the aims of engineering it is important to be quite clear about the terms that are used. This point is illustrated with reference to the design of instruction and assessment. In publicly financed higher education it is of importance to maintain an on-going critique of the aims that drive that finance as well as the one-sided criticisms of others. Lists of aims are often contradictory and require in the first instance to be screened by philosophy. The recent study of engineering by Williams points to the need for profound debate about the aims of engineering education. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2008.

Item Type: Conference Proceedings
Additional Information: Conference code: 74008; Export Date: 23 February 2015; Correspondence Address: Heywood, J.; Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland; References: Koen, B.V., (2003) Discussion of the Method. Conducting the Engineer's Approach to Problem Solving, , Oxford University Press, New York; Goldman, S.L., Why we need a philosophy of engineering. Work in progress (2004) Interdisciplinary Science Review, 23 (2), pp. 163-176; (2007) Engineering Meets Philosophy, , Abstracts of Workshop on Philosophy and Engineering. Delft University of Technology. Netherlands; Bright, L., Whitehead's Philosophy of Physics (1958) Newman Philosophy of Science Series, , See for example, Sheed and Ward, London for a resumé; Whitehead, A.N., (1925) Science and the Modern World, , For a popular work see, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; Hansen, R., Froelich, M., Defining technology and technological education. A crisis or a cause for celebration (1994) International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 4, pp. 179-207. , and other articles in the same Journal. see for example; In the United States the term technology when used of degrees implies what in other parts of the world imply technician when applied to an activity. Technological in the UK when applied to degree level study would in every day talk apply as much to engineering degrees as to other programmes set up to apply science. See also note 5Personal notes made at a meeting of representatives of science education on the one hand and technological education on the other by the Assessment of Performance Unit of HM Inspectorate, Department of Education and ScienceEdels, H., (1968) Technology in the sixth form, (10). , Trends in Education, Ministry of Education, London. By engineering was meant engineering science with a component in design; Heywood, J (2007). Think...About how others think. Liberal Education and Engineering. Proceedings Frontiers in Education Conference . T3c-20 to 24 (IEEE, New York)(1996) National Science Education Standards, , National Research Council , National Academy Press, Washington, DC; Matthews, M.R., (2000) Time for Science Education. How Teaching the History and Philosophy of Pendulum Motion Can Contribute to Science Literacy, , Kluwer, New York; Grimson, W., The philosophic nature of engineering - A characterisation of engineering using the language and activities of philosophy (2007) Proceedings Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education, , Paper 1611; For a more detailed discussion see Heywood, J (2005) Engineering Education: Research and development in Curriculum and Instruction. Wiley/IEEE, New York. pp55-57Among the articles cited were Berg, C. A (1992) On teaching design: identifying the subject. International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education, 20, (4), 235-240Thompson, G., McChesney, C.R., The Royal Academy of Engineering summer school for new teachers of engineering design (1999) International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education, 27 (2), pp. 127-172; Wild, P.M., Bradley, C., Employing the concurrent design philosophy in developing an engineering design science programme (1998) International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education, 26 (1), pp. 51-64; Morant, M.J., Electronics as an academic subject (1993) International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, pp. 110-123; Sinclair, G., Tilston, W., Improved goals for engineering education (1979) Proceedings Frontiers in Education Conference, pp. 252-258; See Wild and Bradley ref 13(1972) Notes for the Guidance on Engineering Science at the Advanced Level of the General Certificate of Education, , Joint Matriculation Board , Joint Matriculation Board, Manchester; Engineering Genesis. Ethics of Genetic Engineering in Non Human Species, , For example see Bruce, D and A. Bruce eds, Earthscan, London; Culler, A.D., (1955) The Imperial Intellect. A Study of Cardinal Newman's Educational Ideal, , Sometimes described by J. H. Newman as enlargement of mind. For a commentary on his views see, Yale University Press; See P 190 in particular. Culler cites Newman's oft quoted discussion on the enlargement of the mind thus which is the power of viewing things at once as a whole, of referring them severally to their true place in the universal system of understanding their respective values and determining their mutual dependence, Possessed of this real illumination, the mind never views any part of the extended subject-matter of Knowledge without recollecting that it is but a part, or without the associations which spring from this recollection. It makes everything some sort of lead to everything else; it would communicate the image of the whole to every separate portion, till that whole becomes in imagination like a spirit, every where pervading and penetrating its component parts, and giving them meaning, To have even a portion of this illuminative reason and true philosophy is the highest state to which nature can aspire, in the way of intellectloc. cit ref 12loc. cit ref 11Vardy, P., (1999) The Puzzle of Ethics, , Fount. Harper Collins, London; A point that is made very clear by Shulman in his essay on psychology and mathematics education in E.C. Begle (ed, 1970) Mathematics Education. National Society for the study of Education. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoSmith, K.A., The Academic Bookshelf: Educational Philosophy (2003) Journal of Engineering Education, , July; Lowe, V., Alfred North Whitehead. The Man and His Work. Volume II. The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, Maryland (1990) Commenting on Whitehead's The Aims of Education, p. 48; Newman, J.H., (1852) The Idea of a University, , Longmans Green; Fitzgibbons, R. E. (1981) Making Educational Decisions. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York. See Ch 1.qote is on p 6Hansen, J.G.R., Fisher, C.A., Curricular emphasis in mechanics: A national update (1986) Engineering Education, pp. 664-669. , April; Ch, , pp. 181 ff. , See ref. 12 for a summary 7. Ploc.cit, pp. 181 ff; Heywood, J., (2000) Assessment in Higher Education. Student Learning, Teaching, Programmes and Institutions, , Jessica Kingsley, London; Yokomoto, C.F., Bostwick, W.D., Modeling the process of writing measurable outcomes for Ec 2000 (1999) Proceedings Frontiers in Education Conference, , 2, 11b1, 18 to 22; Tredennick, N., (2007) Ten Years of Objectives and Outcomes: Time for Change. The Interface (IEEE), (NO3), pp. 1-2. , See also; loc.cit ref 29Bruner, J., (1966) Toward a Theory of Instruction, , Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; Lonergan, B., (1971) Insight, , Darton, Longman and Todd, London; Lonergan, B., loc.cit ref 32In this respect it is interesting to compare Lonergan's Method in Theology (1973-2nd edition, Darton, Longman and Todd, London)with B. V. Koen's Discussion of the Method. Conducting the Engineer's Approach to Problem Solving (Oxford UP-2003) which he believes to be universal i.e the methodNote that constructivism as described here is not mentioned in either the Cambridge Dictionary or the Oxford Companion to Philosophy under the heading of this name. But it is in the Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy. Theory that knowledge is not something we acquire but something we produce;that the objects in an area of inquiry are not there to be discovered but are invented or constructedBucciarelli, L.L., (2003) Engineering Philosophy, , Delft University Press, Delft, Netherlands; This account of Plato is greatly simplified. See Copleston, F 1946, A History of Philosophy. Burnes Oates & Washbourne, London. Paperback edition 1993, Doubleday, New York(1993) History of Philosophy, , See also Scott-Kakures, D et al eds, Harper Collins, New York; On the particular issue, Copleston writes: if a man is asked what justice is, and he points to imperfect embodiements of justice, particular instances which fall short of the universal ideal e.g. the action of a particular man, a particular constitution or set of laws, having no inkling that there exists a principle of absolute justice, a norm and standard, than that mans mind is a state of opinion, He sees the images or copies and mistakes them for originals. But if a man has an apprehension of justice itself, if he can rise above the images to the form, to the idea, to the universal, whereby all particular instances must be judged, then his state of mind is a state of knowledge, Moreover, it is possible to progress from one state of mind to the other, to be converted as it were, and when man comes to realise that what he formerly took to be originals are in reality images or copies i.e. imperfect embodiments of the ideal, when he comes to apprehend inHirst, P., (1975) Knowledge and the Curriculum, , Routledge and Kegan Paul, London; Phenix, P.H., (1964) Realms of Meaning, , McGraw Hill, New York; This note is included to give some idea of the flavour of the debate and to indicate the importance attached to concepts. In order to distinguish between the objects of knowledge Phenix classifies propositions by two dimensions. These are quantity (singular, general comprehensive) and quality (fact, form, norm, Apart from criticising the terms within the quality dimension Hirst asks why these two features should have been selected when there are other possibilities. For example propositions may be classified by tense past, present, future, Manifestly one can classify propositions in a great variety of ways but if we are to classify them as true propositions and nothing else, we must do this by virtue of their logically necessary features and not by any other characteristics that they may happen to have. This is how we happen to classify concepts. We become confused about concepts if we take into account properties that do not define them. Therefore, argues Hirst tWringe, C., (1988) Undertsanding Educational Aims, , Unwin Hyman, London; loc.cit ref 30Furst, E.J., Bloom's taxonomy: Philosophical and educational issues (1994) Bloom's Taxonomy. A Forty Year Retrospective, , See for example, Anderson, L. W. and L.A. Sosniak eds, Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. University of Chicago Press, Chicago; Dressel, P.L., Values, Cognitive and Affective (1971) Journal of Higher Education, 42 (5), p. 400. , Major criticisms of the Taxonomy were made by; and E. W. Eisner (1979). The Educational Imagination. On the Design and Evaluation of School Programmes. Macmillan, New York. For a review focused on engineering education see ch's 1 and 2 of ref 29Furst, E.J., (1958) The Construction of Evaluation Instruments, , David McKay, New York; That argument related to objectives and outcomes. For example problem Solving would be a domain as would creativity. Heywood, J (1989). Problems in the evaluation of focussing objectives and their implications for the design of systems models of the curriculum with special reference to comprehensive examinations. Proceedings Frontiers in Education Conference pp 235-241Williams, R., (2003) Retooling. A Historian confronts Technological Change, , MIT Press, Cambridge, MA; Whitehead, A.N (1932) The Aims of Education and Other Essays. 1950 edition. Benn London. Ch 1. Given in 1916. P12loc.cit ref 25 p 48loc.cit ref 48 p 24Williams, R., , p. 27Williams, R., Williams, R., , p. 30Matthews, G.B., (1980) Philosophy and the Young Child, , See for example, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; Crynes, B.L., Crynes, D.A., They already do it: Common practices in primary education that engineering education should use (1997) Proceedings Frontiers in Education Conference, 3, pp. 12-19; For a description of the Transition year and details of the development of these courses See Heywood, J and M. Murray 2005, Curriculum-led Staff development. Towards Curriculum and Instructional Leadership in Ireland. Bulletins of the European Forum on Educational Administration No 4 Pages 7 to 97Heywood, J (1991) Theory and practice of technology education- implications for the senior cycle of secondary education. In Kussman, M and H. Steffen Current Topics of Technology Education in Europe. EGTB Report No 1. Pp 66-77. Europäische Gessellschaft für Technische Bildung EGTB, DusseldorfOwen, S., Heywood, J., Transition Technology in Ireland. An Experimental Course in Manufacturing Technology (1990) International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 1 (1), pp. 21-32. , On manufacturing technology with girls and boys see; And Kelly, D.T., Heywood, J., (1996) Proceedings Frontiers in Education Conference, pp. 388-393
Uncontrolled Keywords: Engineering educators; Engineering societies; Higher educations; Recent developments; Williams; Curricula; Education; Engineering; Engineering education; Exhibitions; Philosophical aspects; Teaching; Ontology
Depositing User: National Forum
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 21:25
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2015 21:25

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year