Teaching Engineering

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

What is Culturally Responsive Pedagogy?

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP) refers to teaching diverse students through their ethnic, linguistic, racial, experiential, and cultural identities. It uses “the cultures, experiences, and perspectives of African, Native, Latino, and Asian American students as filters through which to teach them academic knowledge and skills” and as well examines “unequal distributions of power and privilege” (Gay & Kirkland, 2003, p. 180). 

Considering that women and people of color are underrepresented in engineering disciplines in the United States, it is critical to practice CRP in engineering education. The engineering activities and lessons that are introduced in classrooms should be culturally relevant and mindful of the inequities that are pervasive in the field of engineering. Thus, it is essential for engineering activity/lesson facilitators to make explicit connections between engineering concepts and the personal lives of their participants. This may include explicit representation of engineers that mirror the engineering participants who may be women and people of color (e.g., African Americans, Latinx, Native Americans) through videos, literature excerpts, pictures, etc. It may also include providing opportunities for participants to tackle social justice and equity issues within their communities through engineering design challenges. In order for engineering activities/lessons to be most impactful, students must be interested in the engineering challenge and the challenge should connect with the student’s local community and/or student’s global society’s needs. Additionally, cultural insight into how students learn best (e.g., through group work, discussion, teams) needs to be considered as well.

Gay, G. & Kirkland, K. (2003). Developing cultural critical consciousness and self-reflection in preservice teacher education. Theory into Practice, 42(3), 181-187. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15430421tip4203_3

Gay, G. (2018). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. Teachers College Press.