Thinking Like an Engineer: Using Engineering Habits of Mind and Signature Pedagogies to Redesign Engineering Education

Bill Lucas, Janet Hanson


In order to attract more young people into engineering and ensure that they are well equipped to meet future professional challenges we need to know how successful engineers think and act when faced with challenging problems. Using a mixed methods approach this study investigated the habits of mind that engineers use most frequently when engaged in the core activity of “making” things or “making things work better”. We identified the six most distinctive learning dispositions, or engineering “habits of mind” [EHoM] that engineers frequently deploy. Our research then explored ways in which the teaching of engineering might be re-designed to cultivate EHoM using “signature pedagogies” and through this, generate deeper understanding of what is involved in becoming and being an engineer. This paper reports on the research undertaken with engineers to define the EHoM and identifies some of the distinctive features of signature pedagogies as they might be applied to engineering education. It concludes by outlining future research to further validate and define habits of mind and signature pedagogies for engineering.


engineering education; engineering habits of mind; growth mindset; signature pedagogy

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International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy (iJEP) – eISSN: 2192-4880
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