skip to main content

Title: The Distributed System of Governance in Engineering Education: A Report on Initial Findings
Unlike medicine, the engineering profession establishes new standards for engineering education through a distributed system of governance that mirrors the distributed structure of the profession. In this paper, we present our preliminary findings resulting from early data collected through an NSF-sponsored study of this system. This qualitative study is multi-site and multiscale in its design, and will eventually draw on interviews with faculty and administrators, at different rank, from at least two-dozen different colleges and universities as well as engineering professional organizations. Our interview data is complemented by content analysis of archival documents and published studies, reports, and statements. This paper is designed to introduce our research questions and begin a conversation among engineering educators about how we govern our own educational system. The trends and observations noted in this paper are abstracted from our earliest results, and are described only in general terms. Future papers will explore each of our research questions more fully, taking into account more detailed data.
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1656117
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10062655
Journal Name:
ASEE annual conference & exposition proceedings
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
22890
ISSN:
2153-5868
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Unlike medicine, the engineering profession establishes new standards for engineering education through a distributed system of governance that mirrors the distributed structure of the profession. In this paper, we present our initial findings and data resulting from an NSF-sponsored study of this phenomenon. This qualitative study is multi-site and multi-scale in its design, and draws on interviews with faculty and administrators, of different rank, from at least two-dozen different colleges and universities as well as engineering professional organizations. We also complement our interview data with content analysis of archival documents and published studies, reports, and statements. The research questions that define our study consist of understanding and documenting the a) the basic structure of the engineering profession and U.S. higher education as it impacts engineering education reform initiatives; b) the historically evolving body of practice that has governed these reforms; c) the ways in which the epistemic habits of engineers, such as an emphasis on quantification and measurement, contributes to reform agendas and outcomes; d) the extent to which engineering educators are cognizant of the social and historical contexts within which they operate, and how their articulations of this context come to define dominant directions in reform; e) the processesmore »through which destabilization and closure occurs with regards to shared standards in engineering education; f) more specifically, the mechanisms through with engineering education reform agendas are coordinated across different institutions; f) and likewise, common mechanisms through which such coordination is frustrated, undermined, and sometimes reversed, especially as a consequence of competing agendas that arise out of institutional diversity and other identifiable causes. By the time of our annual meeting, we expect to be able to offer initial insights into each of our research questions. This paper will offer a preliminary presentation of our findings, including the presentation of illustrative evidence from our data set. The study is designed to provide all engineering educators with a deeper understanding of the context in which they operate, with the aim of producing more effective, inclusive, accommodating, and enduring solutions to the challenges of engineering education. (Note: A more speculative paper, exploring the theoretical and philosophical dimensions of governance in engineering education without a specific emphasis on our research questions and data set, has also been submitted separately to the TELPhE Division. The two papers will be different, presented by different lead authors, and complement one another.)« less
  2. Unlike medicine, the engineering profession establishes new standards for engineering education through a distributed system of governance that mirrors the distributed structure of the profession. In this paper, we present our initial findings and data resulting from an NSF-sponsored study of this phenomenon. This qualitative study is multi-site and multi-scale in its design, and draws on interviews with faculty and administrators, of different rank, from at least two-dozen different colleges and universities as well as engineering professional organizations. We also complement our interview data with content analysis of archival documents and published studies, reports, and statements. The research questions that define our study consist of understanding and documenting the a) the basic structure of the engineering profession and U.S. higher education as it impacts engineering education reform initiatives; b) the historically evolving body of practice that has governed these reforms; c) the ways in which the epistemic habits of engineers, such as an emphasis on quantification and measurement, contributes to reform agendas and outcomes; d) the extent to which engineering educators are cognizant of the social and historical contexts within which they operate, and how their articulations of this context come to define dominant directions in reform; e) the processesmore »through which destabilization and closure occurs with regards to shared standards in engineering education; f) more specifically, the mechanisms through with engineering education reform agendas are coordinated across different institutions; f) and likewise, common mechanisms through which such coordination is frustrated, undermined, and sometimes reversed, especially as a consequence of competing agendas that arise out of institutional diversity and other identifiable causes. By the time of our annual meeting, we expect to be able to offer initial insights into each of our research questions. This paper will offer a preliminary presentation of our findings, including the presentation of illustrative evidence from our data set. The study is designed to provide all engineering educators with a deeper understanding of the context in which they operate, with the aim of producing more effective, inclusive, accommodating, and enduring solutions to the challenges of engineering education. (Note: A more speculative paper, exploring the theoretical and philosophical dimensions of governance in engineering education without a specific emphasis on our research questions and data set, has also been submitted separately to the TELPhE Division. The two papers will be different, presented by different lead authors, and complement one another.)« less
  3. Unlike medicine, the engineering profession establishes new standards for engineering education through a distributed system of governance that mirrors the distributed structure of the profession. In this paper, we present our preliminary findings resulting from early data collected through an NSF-sponsored study of this system. This qualitative study is multi-site and multiscale in its design, and will eventually draw on interviews with faculty and administrators, at different rank, from at least two-dozen different colleges and universities as well as engineering professional organizations. Our interview data is complemented by content analysis of archival documents and published studies, reports, and statements. This paper is designed to introduce our research questions and begin a conversation among engineering educators about how we govern our own educational system. The trends and observations noted in this paper are abstracted from our earliest results, and are described only in general terms. Future papers will explore each of our research questions more fully, taking into account more detailed data.
  4. Early-career engineers leave the profession at high rates, and much remains unknown about why that is so. Consequently, there have been calls for more research to better understand newcomer engineers’ experiences and attrition. The purpose of this article is therefore to examine the experiences of newcomer engineers from different universities and engineering firms around the US. The research questions addressed are as follows: (1) How do newcomer engineers characterize engineering work? and (2) What insights can their characterizations provide about newcomer attrition from engineering careers? A longitudinal study was conducted with recent civil engineering graduates in the US. Three sets of semistructured interviews were conducted in 2019 and 2020. Open coding methods were used to answer the first research question. Based on those emergent findings, the data was then analyzed through the lens of expectancy-value theory to answer the second research question. Misalignments between subjective task values created and/or reinforced in school were a prevalent source of dissatisfaction. There was a need for participants to engage in occupational identity work to reconcile the meanings of engineering and align their identities as engineers with workplace realities. Implications for future research and the engineering education system are discussed.
  5. Ethics and social responsibility are often viewed as key areas of concern for many engineering educators and professional engineers. Thus, it is important to consider how students and professionals understand and navigate ethical issues, explore how such perceptions and abilities change over time, and investigate if certain types of interventions and experiences (e.g., coursework, training, service activities, etc.) impact individual participants. The breadth of engineering as a profession also raises questions about how ethics and social responsibility are understood across a wide range of disciplines, subfields, and industry sectors. Recognizing a need for more empirical research to address such questions, our research team carried out a five year, longitudinal, mixed-methods study to explore students’ perceptions of ethics and social responsibility. This study relied on repeated use of quantitative measures related to ethics, along with qualitative interviews to explore how students’ perceptions of these issues change across time, between institutions, and in response to participation in certain experiences. Additionally, we are now initiating a follow-on study where we will collect survey and interview data from our previous participants now that most of them are in full-time job roles and/or pursuing graduate degrees, as well as from a new group of earlymore »career engineers to enlarge our sample. In this paper, we first give an overview of key research findings from our ongoing research that have been published or are under review. The second major part of this paper delves into some specific theoretical and methodological questions and challenges associated with our research. This paper will likely be of interest to educators and researchers who are involved with developing and/or evaluating ethical capabilities among engineering students.« less