Critical Theoretical Frameworks in Engineering Education: An Anti-Deficit and Liberative Approach

Joel Alejandro Mejia, University of San Diego
Renata A. Revelo, University of Illinois at Chicago
Idalis Villanueva, Utah State University
Janice Mejia, Northwestern University


The field of engineering education has adapted different theoretical frameworks from a wide range of disciplines to explore issues of education, diversity, and inclusion among others. The number of theoretical frameworks that explore these issues using a critical perspective has been increasing in the past few years. In this review of the literature, we present an analysis that draws from Freire’s principles of critical andragogy and pedagogy. Using a set of inclusion criteria, we selected 33 research articles that used critical theoretical frameworks as part of our systematic review of the literature. We argue that critical theoretical frameworks are necessary to develop anti-deficit approaches to engineering education research. We show how engineering education research could frame questions and guide research designs using critical theoretical frameworks for the purpose of liberation.