Critical engineering pedagogy: curricular peer mentoring as a case study for change in the Canadian neoliberal university

Lord, Kristina Diane (2018) Critical engineering pedagogy: curricular peer mentoring as a case study for change in the Canadian neoliberal university. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This research explores themes of pedagogy, change, and agency within education systems, by examining the possibility of changing a pedagogical discourse within an undergraduate engineering program through critical pedagogy. Changing that discourse is necessary because engineering, as engineers themselves acknowledge, cannot remain an exclusionary space given its crucial role in shaping our postmodern world. This world is full of tensions: it is defined by a pervasive neoliberalism that values technical knowledge for its commercial utility; however, it also values human rights, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship. If engineering education only focuses on training students to solve technical problems, it risks producing engineering professionals who are unwilling to reflect on, and lack the agency to address, the effects of engineering on individuals, society, and the environment. To address these concerns, this study piloted a peer-based learning program that ran in an undergraduate engineering program at a Canadian university for one semester, returning rich qualitative data on implementing a change process within engineering education. The pilot program was informed by critical pedagogy, and attempted to introduce a specific model of undergraduate peer mentoring, known as curricular peer mentoring, within engineering education to question exclusionary discourses. Therefore, the pilot program primarily acted as a case study into implementing a pedagogical change within engineering education at a program and faculty-level. However, the case study was also used to assess whether introducing curricular peer mentoring within university education generally might produce graduates who are critical thinkers, and able to engage in the academic, professional, and civic discourses within and beyond their chosen fields of study and practice. This is a pressing issue of contemporary university education, for as we enter the ‗Post-Truth Era‖ there is an urgent need to train university graduates to think critically, so they can effectively evaluate social, political, and economic discourses. Finally, as the wider university continues to be impacted by a neoliberal agenda that curtails their agency and shapes their pedagogies, research, and organizational structures, they too must change. The pilot program also provided an exploration of a change process that challenges that neoliberal discourse, while at the same time existing within it.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 13232
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 395-429).
Keywords: critical pedagogy, engineering education, neoliberalism, change management, postmodernism, change, agency, pedagogy, university education, curricular peer mentoring, peer-based learning, qualitative case studies, praxis
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: January 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Critical pedagogy; Engineering--Study and teaching (Higher).

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