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Board 48: The Epistemic Beliefs of Chemical Engineering Faculty (Part I)

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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

Conference Session

Educational Research and Methods Division Poster Session

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Educational Research and Methods

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Jason Tedstone Clemson University Orcid 16x16

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Jason Tedstone is an Engineering and Science Education doctoral student at Clemson University working with Dr. Karen High on the epistemic beliefs of Chemical Engineering faculty. Jason Tedstone received his BS in Chemical Engineering from Clemson in 2013 and his MS in Chemical Engineering from The University of Alabama in 2015.

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Karen A. High Clemson University

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Dr. Karen High holds an academic appointment in the Engineering Science and Education department and joint appointments in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department as well as the Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences department. Prior to this Dr. Karen was at Oklahoma State University where she was a professor for 24 years and served as the Director of Student Services as well as the Women in Engineering Coordinator. She received her B.S. in chemical engineering from University of Michigan in 1985 and she received her M.S. in 1988 and her Ph.D. in 1991 in chemical engineering both from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Karen’s educational emphasis includes: faculty development critical thinking, enhancing mathematics, engineering entrepreneurship in education, communication skills, K-12 engineering education, and promoting women in engineering. Her technical work and research focuses on sustainable chemical process design, computer aided design, mixed integer nonlinear programing, and multicriteria decision making.

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Epistemic beliefs refer to an individual’s personal beliefs about the nature of human knowledge and includes beliefs about the certainty of knowledge and which criteria are valid to distinguish opinions from facts from beliefs from knowledge. A faculty member’s beliefs about the process of knowing will no doubt have an impact on not only their teaching style, but how they treat their struggling students and their star pupils, how they structure the class and the Syllabus, what kind of feedback they give their students, and even their learning objectives for students. In academic engineering environments, these beliefs are rarely made explicit and frequently assumed to be the same in others as they are in the self. Little research has been done to make these beliefs known or emphasized their importance to engineering faculty. While some quantitative research has been done across engineering and studies have been done within a few specific disciplines, no research has been done specifically on chemical engineering students or faculty. Thus, this study is the first step of many in exploring the epistemic practices within chemical engineering, primarily its academic environment. Considering the long-term goals of this research, it seemed best to study the epistemic beliefs of faculty before studying students, considering that the epistemic environment of students is highly influenced by their faculty and, second, that discussions with teaching faculty should prove to be more in-depth than those with students and provide richer stories and recommendations for both future research and teaching practitioner recommendations. Therefore, the research question of this study is, What are the Epistemic Beliefs of Chemical Engineering Faculty? This mixed methods case study sampled faculty from two large research universities in the Southern United States, but will potentially expand with more faculty across the US. Each faculty member is considered an individual case, although epistemic practices influence others within an academic department and department-level beliefs are briefly considered. This descriptive multicase study is structured with an embedded design with the representation QUAL(quan). Faculty were asked to fill out a quantitative survey concerning their engineering epistemic beliefs and need for cognitive closure. With their responses in mind, they were then interviewed about their beliefs and teaching practices. Classroom observations followed to look for evidence of the connections between belief and practice. This paper will look at the initial results following Spring 2019 data collection.

Tedstone, J., & High, K. A. (2019, June), Board 48: The Epistemic Beliefs of Chemical Engineering Faculty (Part I) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32359

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