June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Educational Research and Methods
24.312.1 - 24.312.14
Conducting Virtual Focus Groups with Engineering Education Faculty and AdministratorsThis abstract describes the final phase of a multi-year study to 1) assess the impact of rewards onthe teaching practice of engineering educators and to 2) describe the spread of pedagogicalinnovations across engineering education. The study is situated within the context of the PremierAward for Excellence in Engineering Education Courseware, which, from 1997-2012,highlighted and rewarded teaching innovations associated with technology. Our study is guidedby the research question, "What has been the impact of efforts to motivate faculty to innovatewith technology in engineering education?"Results of the first phases of the study (text analysis of award applications; interviews withaward-winning faculty) were reported in a paper at ASEE 2012 that identified, at an individuallevel, the long-term impact of receiving the Premier Award. In the final phase of the study weare gathering data (via online survey and virtual focus group) to assess the impact of the PremierAward at an institutional level and to identify the broader role of rewards in facilitating changewithin engineering education.The online survey was distributed in April 2013 to deans and department chairs via an emaillistserv managed by ASEE. Participants' (N=236) qualitative and quantitative responses providedbaseline information that has informed the design of the virtual focus groups. Forty-four percentof respondents indicated that faculty on their campus are rewarded for using innovativecourseware, and 42% indicated faculty were rewarded for developing or creating courseware.But, respondents interpreted the term "courseware" broadly, referring to a variety of onlinelearning tools, not just curriculum or learning environments. Campus-wide teaching awards werethe most-reported type of reward, though some campuses offered faculty release time, publicity,and cash awards. However, almost a fifth of respondents indicated they did not know of anyfaculty rewards on their campuses. Eight of the respondents indicated that someone from theircampus had received the Premier Award.To discuss nuances in the survey results and to generate recommendations about the rewardstructure within engineering education, we are conducting virtual focus groups in October-November 2013. Earlier efforts to conduct face-to-face focus groups did not yielded meaningfulresults because it was difficult to engage the highly distributed target population. However,approximately half of the survey respondents indicated they would participate in online focusgroups to discuss the survey results. To address the shortcomings of previous efforts, we havedesigned a virtual focus group process that leverages the survey data, social media technology,and the idea generation software, IdeaScale. To determine effectiveness, we will evaluate thevirtual focus group process with a short questionnaire after each session. Additionally, theexternal evaluator to this project will monitor each session and record observations.This paper will report the survey and focus group results in full and will also provide the resultsfrom evaluating the process of conducting a virtual focus group. This abstract is submitted as a"Research Paper" but might also be considered in the "Other" category.
McMartin, F. P., & Holsted, S., & Morrill, J., & Tront, J. G. (2014, June), Conducting Virtual Focus Groups to Identify How Rewards Have Affected the Valuation of Technology in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/20203
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