MSE Seminar: “What Is Hidden Curriculum and What Does It Mean for Our Engineering Students?”

Date(s) - 11/01/2022
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Rhines Hall 125


Idalis Villanueva Alarcón

Associate Professor, Department of Engineering Education
University of Florida

Dr. Idalis Villanueva Alarcón is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at the University of Florida. In 2019, she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) award for her NSF CAREER project on hidden curriculum in engineering. She has a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and an M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Also, she completed her postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health in Analytical Cell Biology in Bethesda, Maryland and worked as a lecturer for two years before transitioning to a tenure track in engineering education. Her experiences as a first-generation engineer, Latiné, woman of color, introvert, and mother have shaped the lens and approaches that she uses in her research and practice. She hopes her work will not only challenge normative ways of knowing but also challenge new ways of research scholarship and practice.


In engineering, the issue of underrepresentation continues to be a topic of high debate amongst engineering departments in the U.S. and internationally. While there have been many approaches to tackling this issue, one underexplored area is around hidden curriculum.

The hidden curriculum of engineering is a relatively new concept and describes the (un)intentional, explicit, or implicit messages that are systemically transmitted and structurally sustained and supported. These hidden messages cue to people different lessons about their environment and their overall sense of belonging and influences subsequent decisions and actions (e.g., persistence, retention).

A mixed-methods study was conducted across 58 colleges of engineering for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty across the United States and Puerto Rico between 2018 and 2020. The results of the session revealed many differences across gender, race, and institutional type and role.

This session will introduce the audience to the concept of hidden curriculum, how it is perceived by faculty and students and how an individual’s response to the acquired hidden curriculum may serve to reinforce or mitigate the status quo in engineering. The talk will culminate with some suggestions and strategies to mitigate the negative outcomes of hidden curriculum.