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A Quantitative Investigation Into Contributions To The Pedagogical Advancement Of Engineering Education And A Comparison To Undergraduate Engineering Education School Rankings

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Engineering Education Research

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.109.1 - 8.109.14



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Paper Authors

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Barbara Williams

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Paul Blowers

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session # 1630

A Quantitative Investigation into whether the Publication of Engineering Pedagogical Material is an Indicator of Value in ‘Rankings’ when Assessing Instruction

Barbara Williamsa, Paul Blowersb a University Library b Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering The University of Arizona


Academic departments, colleges and universities are ranked by a variety of agencies, all utilizing different criteria. Arguments abound over how these rankings can and should be compiled. Because there are a variety of consumers who are impacted by these rankings and use them as a basis in their decision making processes, cries of foul play can usually be heard in the hollow halls of academia upon the latest release of such rankings; in fact, the more popular the ranking, the louder the cry. While there is a general consensus that academic numerical rankings are inherently flawed, they are used. Prospective students may use the rankings to inform their decision when selecting a school to attend; some faculty consult these guides when contemplating career moves, and administrators use these rankings for their institution's own self-promoting activities.

This paper will examine the practice of ranking undergraduate college and university engineering programs and document whether those rankings track with the pedagogical development of the discipline. On the one hand, one can successfully argue that overall research expenditures at the graduate level aid undergraduates by giving them access to cutting edge research in their chosen discipline. On the other hand, the availability of research funds does not guarantee undergraduates access to research opportunities. Therefore we make the claim that students in programs where the pedagogical development of the discipline is occurring will generally receive a better educational experience. It is our contention that faculty who drive the educational resource development in their disciplines are generally better educators than those that focus primarily on research.

We examine literature citations involving the pedagogical development of engineering and correlate those findings with engineering undergraduate school rankings using a popular magazine rating service. We find that the rankings of schools do not correlate with the number of educational development references, implying that the rankings are missing a key component in the undergraduate educational experience.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Williams, B., & Blowers, P. (2003, June), A Quantitative Investigation Into Contributions To The Pedagogical Advancement Of Engineering Education And A Comparison To Undergraduate Engineering Education School Rankings Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12525

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