Managing Transformation to Crack Open Engineering Education

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Date



Structural barriers to inclusion in engineering education, and for that matter the entire engineering ecosystem, are real, though often ignored, as we attempt interventions to improve engineering as a space where all are valued. Curricular and pedagogical transformations provide an opportunity to rethink how we interact with the structural barriers that have evolved and change the climate and culture of engineering education. Transformative educational practices can “crack open” learning spaces to be more welcoming to a broader group of individuals through the climate we create in those learning spaces. Similarly, using student-centered learning and other evidence-based practices allow additional opportunities to value all that students bring with them, including their varied modes of inquiry as well as their social, knowledge, and experience capital.

Leveraging transformative educational practices for climate and culture change has a significant advantage within the engineering ecosystem: it is based on cumulative decisions made every day by individuals who vary in power status within the system. In other words, everyone can participate now, rather than waiting to be “ready” or in a particular position of authority. Further, innovative curricular transformation is a lever of change around which concerned individuals can rally, building excitement and momentum. One of the key challenges, however, is finding ways to match inclusive and innovative curriculum with the dominant credentialing systems on which many other systems are built.

This paper combines organizational change theory and interview-based research on credentialing innovative, transformative curricular practices to develop a road map for positive change in engineering education and its climate. We discuss ways in which transformative curriculum is defined, links between transformative curriculum and inclusion, and the interplay of credentialing at its many levels. Finally, using examples from our research, we recommend real changes in approach that any instructor can make in the (re)development of curricular and learning space artifacts that support both inclusion and transformation.


Integrated Engineering

Publication Title

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition