Reed Stevens

“Re-orienting Engineering Education: More People, More Things, Better Problems, and Stickier Formalisms”

Presented By: Reed Stevens, Professor in Learning Sciences
Northwestern University
Held Monday, March 2, 2012

Abstract: In this talk I will draw upon my research conducted over two decades that spans undergraduate engineering education, professional engineering and STEM work, and an afterschool engineering design-oriented STEM program I co-created to argue for some programmatic directions in engineering education, specifically, and STEM education, broadly.

Using the basic four categories of people, things, formalisms, and problems, I will propose that conventional engineering education has the balance of each of these four elements substantially disordered and disproportionate. I will explain in what ways more people, more things, better problems, and stickier formalisms may guide the reorganization of engineering learning experiences to bring more young people into greater contact with engineering before college and make engineering a more vital learning adventure during college.

Bio: Dr. Stevens, Professor of Learning Sciences at Northwestern University, conducts field studies of cognition and learning, with special attention to these phenomena in out-of-school settings. The settings for his field studies have been wide-ranging, from schooling at different levels, to STEM workplaces, to homes, science museums, and early childhood learning centers. His general interests include: the socio-material aspects of cognition and learning, learning across time and place, and comparative analyses of cognition and learning in different contexts. His multidisciplinary research draws on traditions of interaction analysis, science and technology studies, and distributed cognition.