Asee peer logo

Enhancing Campus Collaborations Through Design Research In Engineering Education Reform

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Engineering/Education Collaborators

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.562.1 - 9.562.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Tom Thompson

author page

Terri Fiez

author page

Larry Flick

author page

Edith Gummer

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3130

Enhancing Campus Collaborations Through Design Research in Engineering Education Reform

Tom Thompson, Larry Flick, Edith Gummer, Terri Fiez

Department of Science and Mathematics Education/Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Oregon State University


Successful collaborations are important to implementation of systemic reforms in undergraduate engineering education. Evidence for this exists with the formation of national coalitions of engineering programs and campus collaborations between professionals in engineering and education. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Oregon State University has worked in collaboration with university science education researchers to implement large-scale curriculum reform based on a platform for learning. This collaboration between engineers and educators has been enhanced through the use of an emerging educational research paradigm called design research. Design research uses a team to manage a series of iterative cycles of educational design, implementation, and evaluation. Each cycle provides the empirical evidence needed to improve instruction, and refine educational theory. Data is gathered within the context of an authentic complex educational setting enhancing its explanatory power over data gathered through more traditional methods of educational research and evaluation. Educational design research has proven to be particularly effective at OSU since it provides a common point of reference for discussions about education between engineers and education researchers. This paper summarizes the design research process as it is used at OSU to reform engineering education. The paper points out the parallels between this method of educational research and engineering design that have enhanced this campus collaboration. Design research and the specific illustrations of its use in engineering education reform at OSU provide additional tools for reforming higher education and, in particular, engineering programs at other universities.

Complexity and Collaboration in Reform

Proposals for reform in undergraduate science and engineering education during the last three decades are common. Yet, undergraduate education looks very much the same today as it did prior to reform agendas. This is not to say that change is non-existent. The published literature describes new instructional techniques or assessment adopted by individual faculty, a small team, or even a multiple institution consortium. Entire courses or degree programs are frequently developed to accommodate proposed reform. However, even when backed by NSF funding, these reforms have proven difficult to institutionalize and disseminate beyond pilot projects.1

At issue with reform and its dissemination is a tension between the complexity of an educational problem and the desire for simplicity in a solution. A study of curriculum reform in the

Thompson, T., & Fiez, T., & Flick, L., & Gummer, E. (2004, June), Enhancing Campus Collaborations Through Design Research In Engineering Education Reform Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12750

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015