Monday, December 14, 2009

Importance of Context

As we approach the completion of our course, I was re-reading the Jamieson et al. ASEE paper and getting excited about its contents. Reflecting on the structure and flow of the course, I was wondering if a re-ordering of the topics might be beneficial, especially in light of the diversity of the students. Many have never been exposed to educational philosophy (or any philosophy, for that matter), and experienced some confusion when this topic was presented first. I was thinking that it might be better to present some of the material on the history of engineering and engineering education first to establish a context to which the subsequent topics could then refer. With the historical framework studied first, then the philosophical piece could be studied as it has related to that framework and influenced it over time. This type of context could have helped focus better on those philosophies that have influenced this historical development, or that could be applied to future development. I know from my own philosophical studies over the years that the context in which the study takes place is a key element in determining the direction that the study takes.
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