A Broader Look at The Role of Andragogy in Engineering Education

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Center for Innovation and Engineering, Civil and Mechanical Engineering

Publication Date

Summer 6-23-2018

Publication Title

American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


The word pedagogy is commonly used to describe teaching techniques and practices;

however, the root of the word actually denotes ‘leading’ or teaching children. The assumptions

inherent in this description may be incompatible with the desired outcomes and goals in

undergraduate engineering education. This work builds on previous effort which explored

whether the term andragogy, translated as ‘leading man’ or the education of adults, is a more

appropriate term to achieve the outcomes of engineering educators and engineering societies.

The previous paper used a case study approach to explore documents related to mechanical

engineering and the guiding documents of one mechanical engineering program and its key

stakeholders. The work showed that there was a disconnect between the term pedagogy and the

attributes required of mechanical engineers and desired of graduates of the program, particularly

when it came to assumptions about the nature of the students.

The purpose of this paper is to expand upon the previous mechanical engineeringcentered

single case study and determine the applicability of andragogical learner assumptions to

additional engineering disciplines and programs. This study examines the guiding literature of

various engineering disciplines for evidence to support an andragogical orientation toward

undergraduate students. In addition, the study examines strategic documents associated with

multiple engineering programs to explore whether the findings of the single case study could

transfer to other engineering program related contexts. Finally, the study steps beyond

engineering programs to examine emerging andragogical literature. This literature survey

provides engineering educators a glimpse into the next evolution of how an andragogical

approach to undergraduate learners may be applied to the engineering education enterprise and

accommodate more than just older, more experienced learners.

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