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Analyzing the Transformative Nature of Engineering Education Proposals

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Knowing Ourselves: Research on Engineering Education Researchers

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.209.1 - 22.209.11



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Paper Authors


Stephanie M. Gillespie University of Miami

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Stephanie Gillespie is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida studying electrical engineering with a concentration in audio. Expected to graduate in May 2012, her career goals include to obtain her Ph.D. and teach engineering at the collegiate level. Her research interests include engineering education as well as signal processing for audio applications. In addition to her academic pursuits, Stephanie is currently president of the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at the University of Miami. Her research for this paper was completed while at the National Science Foundation as an intern for the Quality Education for Minorities Network.

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Ann F. McKenna Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Ann McKenna is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering in the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University (ASU). Prior to joining ASU she served as a program officer at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Undergraduate Education and was on the faculty of the Segal Design Institute and Department of Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University. Dr. McKenna’s research focuses on understanding the cognitive and social processes of design, design teaching and learning, the role of adaptive expertise in design and innovation, the impact and diffusion of education innovations, and teaching approaches of engineering faculty. Dr. McKenna received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

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Russell Pimmel National Science Foundation

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Russell Pimmel is the lead Program Director for the Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) Program and also is involved in the Advanced Technology Education (ATE) Program, and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion (STEP) Program. He also works on the Stem Talent Enhancement Program (STEP) and the Advanced Technology (ATE) Program. He joined NSF in 2003 in the division of Undergraduate Education (DUE). Prior to that he held faculty appointments at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, University of North Carolina, Ohio State University, and University of Missouri at Columbia. His industrial experience includes positions with the Emerson Electric Co., Battelle Research Laboratory, and McDonnell-Douglas Corp. He has taught for over 30 years in various areas of electrical, biomedical, and computer engineering. His research has addressed topics in engineering education, artificial neural networks, medical instrumentation, and respiratory mechanics. He received his B.S. degree from St. Louis University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Iowa State University. All degrees are in electrical engineering.

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Analyzing the Transformative Nature of Engineering Education ProposalsThe current study analyzed proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation’s CourseCurriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program at three time intervals, the Type 1deadlines of 2005, 2009, and 2010. The goal of this study was to explore the potential impact ofproposal submissions with regard to how proposers conceptualize transformative changes inengineering education. One major factor that influenced this study is the recent name change ofthe program from CCLI to Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology,Engineering, and Mathematics (TUES). The name change was made to emphasize interest inprojects that have the potential to transform undergraduate education in STEM fields.This study investigated the following research questions: 1) did the name change from CCLI toTUES impact the transformative nature of proposal submissions, 2) what is the nature ofdifferences between awarded and declined proposals over the three years, and 3) how doinvestigators interpret, define, and operationalize transforming undergraduate education in theirproposed activities? To analyze the transformative nature of proposals we used Reigeluth’s(2008) framework that states transformation occurs only by simultaneous change in threedifferent areas. The areas necessary for educational transformation include 1) a core focus onteaching and learning, 2) social relationships within the local environment or institution (internalrelations), and 3) external relationships between the local setting and the environment. Wedeveloped a rubric based on Reigeluth’s three areas as well as the TUES review criteria ofintellectual merit and broader impact.The TUES program is inclusive of ten disciplinary tracks; however, our study focusedspecifically on engineering-focused proposals submitted to the engineering, assessment/researchand interdisciplinary tracks. We analyzed all awarded proposals in 2005, 2009, and 2010 andselected a random sample of declined proposals for comparison purpose. We selected these threeyears since they represent proposal submissions immediately before and after the program namechange, and 2005 data provides a longitudinal perspective on the nature of proposal submissions.The total sample included 260 proposals from 2005, 378 proposals from 2009, and 318 proposalsfrom 2010. The slight variation in totals is due to the overall number of submissions received peryear; however, the percentage of proposals analyzed each year was consistent and representsapproximately 30% of submissions received that year. Furthermore, since our sample includedapproximately 1000 proposals, we coded and analyzed data only from the project summary.Results showed statistically significant differences between awarded and declined proposalsalong several “transformative” categories. In addition, we found statistically significantdifferences in several categories between proposal submitted in 2005, 2009, and 2010. Thispaper will report these findings and discuss how proposals submitted to the CCLI/TUESprogram align with various aspects of educational transformation as discussed in the literature.ReferenceReigeluth, C. M. (2008). Chaos theory and the sciences of complexity: Foundations fortransforming education.

Gillespie, S. M., & McKenna, A. F., & Pimmel, R. (2011, June), Analyzing the Transformative Nature of Engineering Education Proposals Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17490

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