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Connecting Research to Action: A Useful Procedure

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

SD Technical Session: Tricks of the Trade

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.313.1 - 24.313.21



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Paper Authors

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Jennifer A. Turns University of Washington

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Brook Sattler University of Washington

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Kathryn Ann Mobrand University of Washington

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Drew Paine Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington

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Connecting Research to Practice: A Useful FrameworkConnecting educational research to educational practice is a challenge that facesboth engineering educators and engineering education researchers. Ideally,engineering educators use research to imagine new teaching approaches and tomake various teaching decisions. Understandably, making such connections ischallenging. In a complementary fashion, engineering education researchers are,ideally, able to identify and explain possible ways that their research can beused to guide educational practice. This is challenging as well. A significant partof preparing for work in either area is improving the capacity to make suchconnections. This is particularly important for students who are emerging asscholars in their field.The work of making connections between research and practice is oftendescribed as translational work. Some disciplines approach this work head-on.For example, translational medicine is a growing subfield of medicine.However, in engineering and engineering education, the connection of researchand practice, while critical, is often not well understood.In our work, we are theoretically and empirically exploring the ways in whichresearch connects to practice in engineering education. In particular, we areinterested in how implications for practice are conceptualized by members of acommunity, articulated to members of a community, and interpreted bymembers in a community.One thread of our work has been focused answering the question: how areimplications for practice articulated in educational research publications (e.g.,conference proceedings and journal articles)? In this context, we havedeveloped a framework for characterizing the ways in which implications forpractice can be articulated. The framework builds on the general idea ofrhetorical moves—strategies that authors use to develop an argument, includingthings such as word choice and sentence structure. As we will describe in thepaper, the framework consists of five rhetorical move types, which vary in theirassertiveness. This framework, which has emerged from over two years ofactivity, represents a scholarly contribution to the field.In this paper, we will focus on the value of this framework for emergingeducators and educational researchers. We start by motivating the importance ofbeing able to connect research and practice and discussing challenges associatedwith such activity.We will then describe our framework, using examples drawn from our analysisof journal articles published in the Journal of Engineering Education betweenspring 2011 and winter 2013. Specifically, our dataset consists of the sentences(n>4700) from the discussion and conclusion sections of articles (n=59)published in that timeframe. We are analyzing journal articles because they areone place where researchers articulate ideas about how their research can beused (i.e., the implications of their work), but the framework affords broaderuse.Finally, we will focus on how the framework can be used by emergingeducators and educational researchers for activities beyond our current use. Forconsumers of research, this framework offers a tool for identifying implicationsof research for educational practice; for producers of research, this frameworkprovides guidelines for approaching how to articulate implications for practice.

Turns, J. A., & Sattler, B., & Mobrand, K. A., & Paine, D. (2014, June), Connecting Research to Action: A Useful Procedure Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20204

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