Defining Academic Engineering Education Roles within the United States Conference

Bodnar, CA, McCave, EJ, Smith-Orr, C et al. (2021). Defining Academic Engineering Education Roles within the United States . 2 678-686. 10.52202/066488-0075

cited authors

  • Bodnar, CA; McCave, EJ; Smith-Orr, C; Strong, AC; Faber, C; Lee, W


  • CONTEXT Engineering education is an interdisciplinary research field where scholars are commonly embedded within the context they study. Engineering Education Scholars (EES), individuals who define themselves by having expertise associated with both engineering education research and practice, inhabit an array of academic positions, depending on their priorities, interests, and desired impact. These positions include, but are not limited to, traditional tenure-track faculty positions, professional teaching or research positions, and positions within teaching and learning centers or other centers. EES also work in diverse institutional contexts, including engineering disciplinary departments, first-year programs, and engineering education departments, which further vary their roles. PURPOSE OR GOAL The purpose of this preliminary research study is to better understand the roles and responsibilities of early-career EES. This knowledge will enable PhD programs to better prepare engineering education graduates to more intentionally seek positions, which is especially important given the growing number of engineering education PhD programs. We address our purpose by exploring the following research question: How can we describe the diversity of academic or faculty roles early-career EES undertake? APPROACH OR METHODOLOGY/METHODS We implemented an explanatory sequential mixed-methods study starting with a survey (n=59) to better understand the strategic actions of United States-based early-career EES. We used a clustering technique to identify clusters of participants based on these actions (e.g., teaching focused priorities, research goals). We subsequently recruited 14 survey participants, representing each of the main clusters, to participate in semi-structured interviews. Through the interviews, we sought to gain a more nuanced understanding of each participant's actions in the contexts of their roles and responsibilities. We analyzed each interview transcript to develop memos providing an overview of each early-career EES role description and then used a cross case analysis where the unit of analysis was a cluster. ACTUAL OUTCOMES Five main clusters were identified through our analysis, with three representing primarily research-focused day-to-day responsibilities and two representing primarily teaching-focused day-to-day responsibilities. The difference between the clusters was influenced by the institutional context and the areas in which EES selected to focus their roles and responsibilities. These results add to our understanding of how early-career EES enact their roles within different institutional contexts and positions. CONCLUSIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS/SUMMARY This work can be used by graduate programs around the world to better prepare their engineering education graduates for obtaining positions that align with their goals and interests. Further, we expect this work to provide insight to institutions so that they can provide the support and resources to enable EES to reach their desired impact within their positions.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 678

end page

  • 686


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