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Caroline Baillie

Page history last edited by SCEPTrE 14 years ago

Seminar Wednesday February 17th 2010 12.30-13.45

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An approach to explore values in education and practice 

Professor Caroline Baillie, University Western Australia and SCEPTrE distinguished visitor 


e-book Chapter


Values guide our action—what we choose and how we choose. Mitchell and Baillie (1998) suggest, “Our values are the lens through which we view the world: they stem from our underlying beliefs and assumptions, which are generally neither articulated nor questioned”.  Either personal or cultural, values are beliefs that influence our thoughts, feelings, actions, and attitudes. Values evolve from human interactions with the external world (Santrock, 2007). However, rarely in undergraduate education is any consideration taken of our values, what they are and where they come from.  Helping professors and students, as well as practitioners begin to examine their values and consider the implications of work based on those underlying values requires some means to expose these.

In this study I present an emerging methodology to create a values mapping approach for engineering, such that students, teachers, engineers and engineering organizations might better understand the decisions they make and the impact these will have on the various communities in which we work. For this study we have adopted contextually modified versions of the ‘Social Values map’ as described in Michael Adam’s ‘Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of converging values’ (Adams, 2003).  Adams developed questionnaires to locate the prevalent social values of different groups of citizens in the US and in Canada. From the data, he created maps, which showed potential differences between these groups, such as between US citizens and Canadians, between men and women etc. Adams further discovered that it was not possible to capture all Canadian values on the US values map and hence created a Canadian social values map from the Canadian data. In our work an attempt has been made to adopt the overall concept and apply it to the profession of engineering but it could work just as well for any other professional discipline.

The intention is that once the methodology has been tested through future studies, individuals or organizations could have their values mapped onto these frameworks and comparisons could be made between different groups and individuals. This would then be an important pedagogical tool, to help students consider whether they are in fact valuing what they thought they were, or whether they have unconsciously ‘swallowed whole’ values from parents, school, society, which they would prefer not to put at the forefront of their professional work.  It is also possible that these maps could be used to help employees and employers think about their roles and impact within society and help organizations move towards more socially responsible actions.

Adams, M. (2003). ‘Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the myth of converging values’, Toronto: Penguin.

Mitchell, C.A. & Baillie, C. (1998), 'On values, role models, and the importance of being me', Proceedings Annual American Society of Engineering Education Conference.\

Santrock, J.W. (2007). A topical approach to life-span development. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.





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