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Community Building And Identity Development Through Graduate Coursework In Engineering Education

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Building Communities for Engineering Education Research

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.335.1 - 11.335.18



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Paper Authors


Heidi Diefes-Dux Purdue University

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Heidi Diefes-Dux is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education (ENE) at Purdue University with a joint appointment in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE). She is the chair of the ENE Graduate Committee and she is a member of the Teaching Academy at Purdue. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. from ABE in 1997. Her research interests include open-ended problem solving, evaluation of education technology, and first-year and graduate curriculum development.

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Robin Adams Purdue University

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Robin S. Adams is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She is also leads the Institute for Scholarship on Engineering Education (ISEE) as part of the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE). Dr. Adams received her PhD in Education, Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington, an MS in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Washington, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Dr. Adams' research is concentrated on understanding design knowing and learning (particularly iterative cycles in design), multidisciplinary thinking, building capacity in engineering education research, and strategies for connecting research and practice.

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Monica Cox Purdue University

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Monica Farmer Cox is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, her M.S. in Industrial Engineering at the University of Alabama, and her B.S. in Mathematics at Spelman College. Her research interests include teaching and learning in engineering education; engineering faculty and student development; and assessment and evaluation of engineering curricula, faculty pedagogy, student learning, student retention, and student engagement within engineering courses.

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Deborah Follman Purdue University

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Deborah K. Follman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University in 1994 and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University in 2000. Her research interests include engineering education and gender equity, specifically regarding self-efficacy, issues of gender on student cooperative learning teams, and curriculum development.

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Community Building and Identity Development Through Graduate Coursework in Engineering Education Abstract

The new engineering education graduate degree program at Purdue University is a pipeline for educating future engineering faculty and professionals interested in pursuing careers that support research-based engineering education reform. The first cohort of doctoral seeking students was admitted in Fall 2005. Two courses were developed to address community building and identity development in this new field of study. Emphasis was placed on these two ideas as the field is currently not well defined and the research community is relatively small and fragmented. Such emphasis is also intended to circumvent common doctoral program issues including isolationism.

This paper presents an overview of the development of these courses and student evaluation of the course learning objectives. Students' favorable evaluation of the impact of these courses on dimensions of community building and professional identity development are highlighted.


In Fall 2005, Purdue University admitted its first cohort of graduate students into the engineering education graduate degree programs. This was the highlight of a three-year process to realign the mission of the former Department of Freshman Engineering to support the scholarship of engineering education1. In Spring 2004, Purdue became the first research extensive university to launch a Department of Engineering Education (ENE). In Spring 2005, the Indiana Commission of Higher Education approved the proposal to create graduate programs at Purdue University in engineering education.2

The faculty assigned to teaching the introductory ENE courses identified a number of critical needs of graduate students entering this new field of study. Students will need to understand what it means to be a professional in this new area and what it means to be active in this profession. Students will also need to take an interdisciplinary perspective – that is understand how this field relates to the communities and from which it emerged (e.g. engineering and education). Students will need experiences that promote growth of the field and success of those who enter that field (e.g., circumventing problems in doctoral programs such as isolationism3,4).

These needs were translated into course goals to build community and promote identity development. In other words, these introductory courses need to bring students into this new field and help them navigate this field (and those communities that contribute to this field). This requires helping students understand the profession and their role in it, as well as enabling them to be active in the development of a professional community. These goals align well with modern approaches to doctoral education5. These goals also align well with what it means to build capacity in educational researchers6. And finally, these goals address significant local needs in ENE to facilitate linkages across engineering and education communities.

In this paper, we describe two new courses: ENE 595A – Introduction to Engineering Education and ENE 695A – Seminar in Engineering Education. In the sections that follow, we will

Diefes-Dux, H., & Adams, R., & Cox, M., & Follman, D. (2006, June), Community Building And Identity Development Through Graduate Coursework In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--799

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