The engineering learning environment: A Proposed model

Nadia Kellam, Ashley Babcock, David Gattie

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


While 30% of all students entering college major in science and engineering, less than half graduate in these fields. These students are typically the most qualified entrants into college and are disproportionately under-represented minorities. Previous studies have indicated that the engineering environment strongly influences the lack of diversity within engineering education. The engineering learning environment has a focus on individual achievement, competition, task orientation, and limited involvement with peers and professors, which leads to a narrow spectrum of students surviving in that environment.1,2 Furthermore the social fields of students within engineering do not overlap, as antecedents or stream of life events are deemed irrelevant. This simplistic learning environment may provide a deeper understanding of why women account for only 21% of engineering students.3 A contextual model of the learning environment was developed and will be presented. This model promises to provide a lens to view the issue of diversity in engineering educational systems and eventually lead to transformational changes that address this marginization of subsets of people. This lens will provide a way to view diversity and provide tools to infuse systemic change in the higher educational system. Instead of simply blaming the student or the perceptions of the student, this approach looks at the engineering environment as the root of the problem so that we do not provide a shallow, local solution to a much deeper, pervasive issue. "If a plant fails to flourish, to grow or even to survive in our human-constructed garden, we do not blame the plant,... We accept that it is we who have created an inappropriate ecological environment and that we must adjust that environment if plants, other than indigenous hardy ones, are to survive and flourish."4

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
Event2008 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Pittsburg, PA, United States
Duration: Jun 22 2008Jun 24 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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