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Entering the Discipline of Engineering Education Research: A Thematic Analysis

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Research Methods and Studies on Engineering Education Research

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Renato Alan Bezerra Rodrigues University of Manitoba

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Ph.D. student in Engineering Education at the University of Manitoba.

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Jeffrey Wayne Paul University of Manitoba

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Currently a PhD Student in Engineering Education at the University of Manitoba

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Jillian Seniuk Cicek University of Manitoba Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jillian Seniuk Cicek is an Assistant Professor in the Centre for Engineering Professional Practice and Engineering Education at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Canada. She teaches technical communication, engineering education research, and career design. Her areas of investigation include: Indigenous initiatives in engineering education; student culture, diversity, perspectives, identity, and learning; instructor pedagogical practices and belief-systems; epistemological tensions in engineering education; and engineering competencies in engineering practice.

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In this study, we used classical grounded theory and thematic analysis to develop a framework to help us understand the process that academics go through to become engineering education researchers. As a data source, we accessed the publicly available interview transcripts from the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research: Updated Perspectives (CHEER-UP) 2020 virtual summer seminar. In this series of 15 seminars, 32 CHEER authors engaged in one-hour discussions to elicit their current views on the topic highlighted in their chapters. As part of the introduction to each seminar, the authors answered why and how they entered the field of EER, which we used for our analysis.

Using NVivo 12, we administered a line-by-line coding of the interviews using inductive thematic analysis, identifying themes that helped us answer our research question. We identified five main themes: Engineering Culture, Opportunity, Education Knowledge Community Involvement, and Desire to Right Wrongs. The individual themes identified here are aligned with and supported by publications in engineering education and other disciplines.

The central ideas of our findings are two-fold. First, an Opportunity is often the catalyst for the boundary-crossing between the disparate disciplines of engineering and education. Second, having an intrinsic motivation (i.e., Desire to Right Wrongs) and the external support of Community Involvement are crucial to help the researcher continue to thrive and explore within this dual-discipline in which boundary-crossing is endemic.

Bezerra Rodrigues, R. A., & Paul, J. W., & Seniuk Cicek, J. (2021, July), Entering the Discipline of Engineering Education Research: A Thematic Analysis Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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