Learning from the experiences of Navajo engineers: Looking toward the development of a culturally responsive engineering curriculum

Shawn S. Jordan, Chrissy H. Foster, Ieshya K. Anderson, Courtney A. Betoney, Tyrine Jamella D. Pangan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Diverse perspectives, including those of Native Americans, are needed to drive innovation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Tribes such as the Navajo Nation are seeking to strengthen their communities, create economic opportunities, and improve the lives of their peoples by encouraging members of their tribe to become engineers. Research investigating how Navajo engineers experience and understand engineering design and practice in the context of their culture and community can provide insight into how to engage Navajo students in pathways to careers in STEM. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of the study was to identify and investigate the ways in which Navajo engineers experience, understand, and apply engineering design and practice in the context of their culture and community. Design/Method: A phenomenographic approach was used to explore the ways that Navajo engineers experience and understand the phenomena of engineering design and practice in the context of their culture and community. A total of 20 Navajo engineers were interviewed for this study. Results: Four qualitatively distinct lenses on how Navajo engineers experience and understand engineering design and practice embedded in the culture of the Navajo community were identified as (a) Navajo-centered behavior, (b) Navajo-centered purpose, (c) Navajo-centered strategy, and (d) Navajo-centered application. Conclusions: The results of the study provide a deeper understanding of how Navajo engineers experience similarities and differences between Navajo culture and engineering design and practice, and provide a foundation for the development of culturally responsive engineering design curricula for classrooms in the Navajo Nation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • culture
  • design practice
  • engineering profession
  • Native American
  • phenomenography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)

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