Beyond Diversity As Usual: Expanding Critical Cultural Approaches to Marginalization in Engineering Education
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In general, what we think of as "diversity work" in undergraduate engineering education focuses in the following ways: more on the overlooked assets of minority groups than on the acts of overlooking, more on the experiences of marginalized groups than on the mechanisms of marginalization by dominant groups, more on supporting and increasing minority student retention than on critiquing and remediating the systems which lead minority students to leave engineering. This dissertation presents a series of arguments which push beyond a status quo understanding of diversity in engineering education. The first approach the dissertation takes up is to problematize educational facts around failure by interrogating their roots in interactions and cultural norms in an engineering classroom. In another argument, the dissertation places the engineering classroom cultural norms of competition, whiteness, and masculinity in a critical historical context of the discipline at large. Finally, I demonstrate how engaging students in a critique of marginalizing educational culture can be an important source of agency. In addition to applying and demonstrating the value of specific novel approaches in engineering education, the dissertation contributes to the research community by discussing the respective affordances between these and other possible scholarly approaches to culture and marginalization in education. I also suggest how a consideration of the taken-for-granted culture of engineering education can be an important tool for instructors seeking to gain insight into persistent educational problems. In addition, this dissertation makes implications for diversity support practice, envisioning new forms of support programming rooted in intersectionality and critical praxis.