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Board 130: Engineering Education Collaborations: Exploring "Ways of Thinking" Using a Mixed Methods Approach

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

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Student Division Poster Session

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Medha Dalal Arizona State University Orcid 16x16

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Medha Dalal has a Ph.D. in Learning, Literacies and Technologies from the Arizona State University with a focus on engineering education. She has a master’s degree in Computer Science and a bachelor's in Electrical Engineering. Medha has many years of experience teaching and developing curricula in computer science, engineering, and education technology programs. She has worked as an instructional designer at the Engineering Research Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics. Her research interests include interdisciplinary collaborations, ways of thinking, online/blended learning, and pedagogy of technology integration.

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There is an emerging consensus that engineering education research needs new ways of thinking to bring radical change in existing engineering pedagogy (Jamison, Kolmos, & Holgaard, 2014; NSF, 2017; McKenna, Froyd, & Litzinger, 2014). The National Science Foundation in particular, advocates interdisciplinary collaborations between engineering and social sciences faculty to foster new ways of thinking for research (NSF, 2017). Ways of thinking is a systematic thought process that informs decision-making (Harel & Sowder, 2005). Environmental and Sustainability Education Research offers a ways of thinking framework, for considering complex education-based challenges through four ways of thinking, including futures, values, systems, and strategic thinking (Warren, Archambault, & Foley, 2014). Futures thinking focuses on exploring the present with anticipatory approaches to understand and prepare for future changes, problems, and solutions. Values thinking concerns the integration of justice, equity, and ethics in designing a solution. Systems thinking is about considering holistic problem-solving approaches that understand and analyze the complexity of various elements and their interrelationships in the overall ecosystem. Strategic thinking involves the ability to collectively develop a plan, innovate, and act upon other ways of thinking to address today’s challenges (Warren et al., 2014). Together, these ways of thinking offer a networked approach for collaborators to consider problem/solution constellations and frame decisions regarding engineering education research.

Informed by this framework, the current study included as part of my dissertation research, examines these specific ways of thinking among engineering and social science faculty who collaborate for interdisciplinary engineering education research. The study uses an exploratory sequential design of mixed methods where a qualitative phase is followed by a quantitative phase. For Phase I, nine engineer-social scientist teams were interviewed in dyads to understand their conceptualizations of futures, values, systems, and strategic thinking for engineering education research. Several team meetings were observed to support interview findings with authentic examples of implementations of these ways of thinking. The qualitative analysis of the interviews and observations then informed the development of a quantitative survey for Phase II, which will be distributed to a wide sample of collaborators across the nation.

This poster includes the rationale, details of methodology, and results. Qualitative results illustrate conceptualizations and authentic examples of applications of futures, values, systems, and strategic thinking in real-world projects. Survey results highlight the factors and dimensions underlying the scales of futures, values, systems, and strategic thinking. This study is an important first step toward the development of a ways of thinking model for engineering education interdisciplinary collaborations that will ultimately provide organizing principles for addressing problems in the engineering education system in a coherent fashion. The results will be especially useful for future engineering education collaborators.

Dalal, M. (2019, June), Board 130: Engineering Education Collaborations: Exploring "Ways of Thinking" Using a Mixed Methods Approach Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32233

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