Collaborative Research: Supporting Agency Among Early Career Engineering Education Faculty in Diverse Institutional Contexts Grant

Collaborative Research: Supporting Agency Among Early Career Engineering Education Faculty in Diverse Institutional Contexts .


  • Faculty are at the center of many potential solutions to national and global calls for transformative improvements in STEM education. The last 20 years have seen significant advancement in understanding of how to create effective learning environments for STEM education. While many individual faculty have adopted new approaches to teaching, change has not been deep or widespread enough to make a major impact across all of STEM education. Better understanding is needed of how faculty can become change agents in order to effect this change. This study focuses on exploring the experiences of early career engineering education faculty as they attempt to impact the engineering education experiences of students locally and more broadly. Engineering education faculty are unique in that they have formal training in the types of change desired, and are often embedded in disciplinary engineering departments where they can apply their knowledge to create change. Understanding their experiences and the academic cultures in which they are working will provide information on how they can and cannot influence education practices in their departments. Doing so will enhance our efforts to train and develop faculty prepared to drive change in engineering education.In the first phase of a two-phase study, collaborative inquiry and collaborative autoethnography methods will be used to systematically examine the PIs' own experiences as six early career faculty members in diverse settings: this will include scrutinizing acceptance of ambiguity, responses to disappointments and challenges, willingness to adapt, and ability to collaborate. Subsequently, in the second phase, the experiences of 12-15 additional early career faculty members will be examined to refine and expand on the phase one results, increasing their applicability to multiple settings. The results of this project will (1) advance the engineering education community's understanding of existing structures for facilitating change (or the lack thereof) in engineering education (2) identify barriers and supports for making change as early career engineering education faculty; and (3) develop a co-constructed understanding of how to better prepare and support faculty to exercise agency as it relates to impacting engineering education during their first few years in academic positions. These advancements are critical because the calls for change in engineering education will continue as technological advances are made and the role of engineers in society continues to evolve. By identifying the barriers and supports that affect early career faculty's abilities to take strategic and intentional actions towards achieving impact, the results of this study will enable engineering education graduate programs and national engineering education organizations to make programmatic changes to benefit future faculty. In addition, the evidence-based insights resulting from this study have the potential to expedite the on-boarding process of new engineering education faculty, promote improvements in STEM education nationally by faculty at all stages of their careers, and support the development of the field of engineering education research.

date/time interval

  • August 11, 2018 - July 31, 2022

sponsor award ID

  • 1855357