Towards a Unified Theory of Engineering Education

Oscar H Salcedo Orozco, University of Texas at El Paso


STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons and activities as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling STEM literacy (Tsupros, Kohler and Hallinen, 2009). The purpose of the dissertation is to develop a unified theory of engineering education based on philosophies of mathematics, science, technology & engineering, and engineering education. Using purposive sampling methods, the thesis constructs "representative" philosophy statements from the STEM fields based on the criteria of Constructivism, Progressivism, and/or Pragmatism. These statements are analyzed to identify significant constructs embedded in them. Eighty-seven constructs were identified of which 32 were mentioned more than 100 times. These 32 were synthesized into the 8 super constructs below using Hermeneutic Circle and Mayer and Sparrowe concept integration methods: 1) Science, 2) Social, 3) Engineering, 4) Technology, 5) Knowledge, 6) Concept, 7) Philosophy, and 8) Mathematics. These constructs are then used to argue for a new model and approach to curriculum and instructional integration, and the role for engineering education in the STEM classroom. Since "science" and "society" were the two most powerful constructs, the integrated model argues that the "S" in STEM should be read as Science: natural and social which adds significantly from social science, liberal arts, humanities to the STEM construct. The model argues the reconceptualization of instruction less as exposure to separate fields of content to be mastered and more as a correlating center of student experiences with the meaningful construction and application of knowledge to activity.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Teacher education|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Salcedo Orozco, Oscar H, "Towards a Unified Theory of Engineering Education" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10684547.