skip to main content

Title: How Engineering Education Guilds are Expanding our Understanding of Propagation in Engineering Education
Background: The National Science Foundation (NSF) and other organizations have spent millions of dollars each year supporting well-designed educational innovations that positively impact the undergraduate engineering students who encounter them. However, many of these pedagogical innovations never experience widespread adoption. To further the ability of innovation developers to advance engineering education practice and achieve sustained adoption of their innovations, this paper explores how one community-based model, engineering education guilds, fosters propagation across institutions and individuals. Engineering education guilds seek to work at the forefront of educational innovation by creating networks of instructor change-agents who design and implement a particular innovation in their own context. The guilds of interest are the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE) and the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN). With these guilds as exemplars, this study’s purpose is (1) to articulate how the approaches of engineering education guilds align with existing literature on supporting sustained adoption of educational innovations and (2) to identify how these approaches can advance the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education community’s discussion of propagation practices through the use of the Designing for Sustained Adoption Assessment Instrument (DSAAI). The DSAAI is a conceptual framework based on research in sustained adoption of pedagogical innovations. It has previously been used in the form of a rubric to analyze dissemination and propagation plans of NSF educational grant recipients and was shown to predict the effectiveness of those propagation plans. Results: Through semi-structured interviews with two leaders from each guild, we observed strong alignment between the structures of CRPEE and KEEN and evidence-based sustained adoption characteristics. For example, both guilds identified their intended audience early in their formation, developed and implemented extensive plans for engaging and supporting potential adopters, and accounted for the complexity of the higher education landscape and their innovations in their propagation plans. Conclusions: Our results suggest that guilds could provide another approach to innovation, as their structures can be aligned with evidence-based methods for propagating pedagogical innovations. Additionally, while the DSAAI captures many of the characteristics of a welld-esigned propagation strategy, there are additional components that emerged as successful strategies used by the CPREE and KEEN guild leaders. These strategies, including having mutual accountability among adopters and connecting adoption of innovations to faculty reward structures in the form of recognition and funding should be considered as educational innovators work to encourage adoption of their innovations.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of STEM education
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Engineering education guilds, such as the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE) and the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), seek to work at the forefront of educational innovation by creating networks of instructor change agents who design and implement a particular innovation in their own context to further the professional formation of engineers (PFE). While many of the innovations facilitated by CPREE and KEEN have been published extensively, it is unclear how successful the propagation of reflection and entrepreneurial mindset has been in the engineering education community. The major aim of this project is to characterize these two engineering education guilds with respect to their dissemination/propagation plans and, in the future, quantify the propagation of the innovations championed by CPREE and KEEN. The research questions we seek to answer in this paper are: (1) What are the planned dissemination/propagation approaches of well-established engineering education guilds? and (2) To what extent do their characteristics align with the Designing for Sustained Adoption Assessment Instrument (DSAAI)? The DSAAI was developed in 2016 to provide education developers, grant writing consultants, and funding agencies with a tool for assessing the propagation plans of researchers developing educational change strategies. To answer these questions, we conducted semi-structured interviews with the leaders of CPREE and KEEN. The transcriptions of the interviews will be used to create within-case reports for each guild. The within-case reports will consist of a rich description of the pedagogical innovation as well as the history of the guild and its goals. Using the DSAAI, we will qualitatively code the techniques that each guild is using to facilitate widespread adoption as well as the extent to which they are following a dissemination or propagation paradigm. Lastly, thematic analysis will be used to capture emerging themes that arise from the interviews. 
    more » « less
  2. This work investigates how innovations propagate through two professional networks (guilds): the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) and the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE). Previous research has demonstrated that the adoption of pedagogical innovations is supported by the socialization of the innovation among potential adopters. In this work, we use social network analysis to explore the impact of professional connections on innovation adoption. Our research questions are: (1) How does overall social structure differ between guilds? (2) How do measures of social network structures relate to innovation adoption? A survey was distributed to members of KEEN and CPREE to capture the interactions respondents had while adopting the guild’s innovation. Social networks were generated for each guild and each respondent. These networks were analyzed to identify relationships between social network measures and the frequency of use of the innovation. Responses to open-ended questions were analyzed using thematic coding. The guilds’ overall structures impacted the formation and structure of distinct clusters/cliques, but these differing structures did not appear to affect sustained adoption. Individuals’ ego networks demonstrated a weak negative correlation between the frequency of adoption and the individual’s ego network density. Our results imply that having a diverse network exposes instructors to more ideas or allows them to see one idea from many perspectives.

    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    This Full Research paper uses resource network analysis to explore what resources faculty use when they make changes to their pedagogy, and how an engineering education “guild” is situated among those resources. The process of influencing pedagogical change can be understood as lying along a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum is the dissemination model, where research is simply made available and instructors are expected to seek out new tools. On the other end is the propagation model, where researchers, developers, and instructors work as one cohesive team to get innovative tools into classrooms. While each of these models and the instructor resources associated with them have been separately studied and defined, approaches on the spectrum between them remain understudied. Engineering education guilds employ an approach that falls along the dissemination-propagation spectrum; they use both dissemination and propagation techniques to influence pedagogical changes. Despite lack of formal research on the subject, engineering education “guilds” have become an increasinglypopular vehicle for pedagogical change in engineering education classrooms. One such engineering education guild is the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), which is focused on integrating entrepreneurial mindset (EM) into engineering curricula. By constructing resource networks for educators who have been exposed to KEEN, we aim to understand the role of KEEN among the myriad resources used by engineering educators when they integrate EM-related content into their classrooms. Results suggest that engineering education guilds are central to the resource networks of faculty looking to innovate their pedagogy, with the most popular resources all falling under the guild’s umbrella. These resources are also strongly interconnected, especially during the integration process. However, the resources networks of those who saw successful, complete, sustained adoption reached beyond the guild’s umbrella, forging connections with a variety of other materials from different sources. 
    more » « less
  4. It has been well-established that concept-based active learning strategies increase student retention, improve engagement and student achievement, and reduce the performance gap of underrepresented students. Despite the evidence supporting concept-based instruction, many faculty continue to stress algorithmic problem solving. In fact, the biggest challenge to improving STEM education is not the need to develop more effective instructional practices, but to find ways to get faculty to adopt the evidence-based pedagogies that already exist. Our project aims to propagate the Concept Warehouse (CW), an online innovation tool that was developed in the Chemical Engineering community, into Mechanical Engineering (ME). A portion of our work focuses on content development in mechanics, and includes statics, dynamics, and to a lesser extent strength of materials. Our content development teams had created 170 statics and 253 dynamics questions. Additionally, we have developed four different simulations to be embedded in online Instructional Tools – these are interactive modules that provided different physical scenarios to help students understand important concepts in mechanics. During initial interviews, we found that potential adopters needed coaching on the benefits of concept-based instruction, training on how to use the CW, and support on how to best implement the different affordances offered by the CW. This caused a slight shift in our initial research plans, and much of our recent work has concentrated on using faculty development activities to help us advertise the CW and encourage evidence-based practices. From these activities, we are recruiting participants for surveys and interviews to help us investigate how different contexts affect the adoption of educational innovations. A set of two summer workshops attracted over 270 applicants, and over 60 participants attended each synchronous offering. Other applicants were provided links to recordings of the workshop. From these participants, we recruited 20 participants to join our Community of Practice (CoP). These members are sharing how they use the CW in their classes, especially in the virtual environment. Community members discuss using evidence-based practices, different things that the CW can do, and suggest potential improvements to the tool. They will also be interviewed to help us determine barriers to adoption, how their institutional contexts and individual epistemologies affect adoption, and how they have used the CW in their classes. Our research will help us formulate strategies that others can use when attempting to propagate pedagogical innovations. 
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    Prior research indicates that empathy can help engineers achieve better outcomes in team-based, design, entrepreneurial, and humanitarian environments. We describe an educational innovation designed to teach engineering students empathic communication skills. Written in the spirit of a propagation (versus dissemination) paradigm, we focus on how the original innovation was adapted to fit into two instructional settings that differed from the first implementation context. We use first person instructor accounts to describe these adaptation processes, including interactions between the developers and the adopters of the innovation, what modifications were necessary to “fit” the innovation into the new settings, and adopter experiences. We conclude with a brief discussion of particularly salient propagation considerations that emerged for the two adopters including, for example, the amount of instructional time available for implementing the empathic communication exercises, and how to achieve student buy-in in different course settings. The two main contributions of this paper are, first, the rich descriptions of how features of the original educational innovation had to be modified to meet the two other settings’ pedagogical goals and, second, an example of how to advance scholarship that supports the propagation of engineering education teaching and learning innovations. 
    more » « less