Publication Details

Goldfinch, T., Layton, C. and McCarthy, T. (2010). Encouraging cultural awareness in engineering students. The 21st Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (pp. 602-607). Wembley WA, Australia: Australasian Association for Engineering Education.


With ever diversifying engineering student cohorts, faculty, and ultimately, engineering workforce, there is an increasing need to foster genuine cultural intelligence and awareness in students. An in-depth audit of graduate attribute-oriented learning experiences in engineering curricula at the University of Wollongong, identified a very limited number of learning experiences targeting cultural intelligence. This paper describes a project aimed at developing learning activities to improve the cultural awareness of first year engineering students. Crucially for the project, activities had to be developed with ‘nuts and bolts’, or ‘formulae’ focused engineering students in mind. Concepts of Critical Consciousness and self reflection have been cunningly disguised in activities that are directly relevant to engineering, and more specifically the area of engineering design and innovation. Stimulus material, discussion and design activities are packaged for a series of one hour tutorials to be run in conjunction with more traditional design and drawing tutorials. Evaluation of the effectiveness of this approach using a quantitative survey and qualitative focus groups is due to be completed in the second semester of 2010

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