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A Case Study of Engineering Faculty Collaboration: Co-Authoring an E-Book on Energy and Sustainability

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

ERM Potpourri

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.24.1 - 23.24.14



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Paper Authors


Bugrahan Yalvac Texas A&M University

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Bugrahan Yalvac is an associate professor of science education in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture at Texas A&M University, College Station. He received his Ph.D. in science education at the Pennsylvania State University in 2005. Prior to his current position, he worked as a learning scientist for the VaNTH Engineering Research Center at Northwestern University for three years. Yalvac’s research is in STEM education, 21st century skills, and design and evaluation of learning environments informed by the How People Learn framework.

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Mehmet Ayar TUBITAK

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Dr. Mehmet Ayar is a scientific programs expert in the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). He received his PhD. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in STEM education at Texas A&M University in 2012. His research is in ethnographic studies of science and engineering practice, curriculum development, design of learning environments and robotics activities. Dr. Ayar worked for the Live Energy Project during his PhD studies at Texas A&M University. Prior to his PhD studies, he worked for three years as a science teacher at a private school in Turkey.

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Dennie L. Smith Texas A&M University

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Dennie Smith is a Professor in Teaching, Learning and Culture at Texas A&M University.

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Christine Ehlig-Economides Texas A&M University

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Dr. Ehlig-Economides has been full professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University in the Albert B. Stevens endowed chair since 2004. Before that she worked for Schlumberger for 20 years in well test design and interpretation, integrated reservoir characterization, modern well construction design, and well stimulation. She has worked in more than 30 countries and authored more than 60 papers. Dr. Ehlig-Economides has received a number of technical awards in including the SPE Formation Evaluation and Lester C. Uren Awards and the Anthony Lucas Gold Medal, and she was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2003.

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An Emergence of a Community of Practice: Depicting Five Engineering Professors’ Collaboration to Co-author an E-Book on Energy and Sustainability with Dynamic ContentIn this paper, we discuss the characteristics of the interaction and the culture emerged as fiveengineering professors engage in a noval pedagogical activity to promote more student-centeredinstruction. Funded by the NSF, in this three year long collaborative research project, fiveengineering professors as PIs at five different Research I institutions in East Coast, West Coast,and South US co-author an e-book on energy and sustainability topics with dynamic contentembedded.Because of the newly emerged energy sustainability content knowledge, changes inenvironmental factors, and media’s and public’s reactions to those changes, there appears a needto use a textbook with dynamic content that can be updated every other semester in collegelevels. Developing a textbook with dynamic content is timely, yet a naive practice for theengineering professors. It is unknown how the authors’ interaction and communication willevolve over time and what the characteristics of the culture they develop are as the authors workin collaboration. To document the nature and the discourse of the engineering professors’ co-authoring practices, we conducted an instrumental case study with ethnographic data collectionapproaches, which included recordings of professors’s weekly meetings, one-to-one interviews,and the documentation of all electronic interaction. We used the communities-of-practice notionto examine our professors’ collaboration and the emerging culture. The professors have met onthe Internet every week for an hour for the last two years, and majority of their meetingconversations were transcribed and analyzed. We interviewed all professors once, and analyzedthe data collected.We organized our findings into three dimensions: (a) the culture emerged; (b) the sharedlanguage; and (c) the mutual engagement and evolved goals. We observed that in the culture ofengineering professors, the pre-defined goal was to co-author an online textbook on energysustainability to support core science and engineering courses for major and non-majorundergraduate students. However, the joint enterprise has evolved over time. Professors havedecided to publish the book on an e-book reader (e.g., kindle or ipad) that is convenient to read.Another goal emerged was to sustain the book after the project funding is ended. As the fiveprofessors continued co-authoring the book, newcomers joined the community. Over the courseof our research, we identified that new comers brought new ideas to improve the content of thebook and help support the technical, social, and financial dimensions of the project.Because the faculty members were located across the US, the Adobe Connect was a means tocommunicate with one and another and organize the project activities. As they collaborated andcommunicated in the teleconference meetings, a shared language emerged among the virtualcommunity members. Instead of instructing each member what to do in the every step of the co-authoring process, they developed their own strategies. A shared language used in administeringthe surveys, peer-reviewing the chapters, receiving copy-right permission for the images in thechapters, and making the textbook accessible to students and compatible with differenttechnologies helped them make progress. We will report our findings in detail at the meeting.Our project design and study findings may guide other engineering educators to develop similartextbooks in their field. With the most recent and up-to-date information, the engineeringcourses offered in college levels will be more student-centered and relevant to students’ dailylife experiences.

Yalvac, B., & Ayar, M., & Smith, D. L., & Ehlig-Economides, C. (2013, June), A Case Study of Engineering Faculty Collaboration: Co-Authoring an E-Book on Energy and Sustainability Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19038

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