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Examining the Innovation-Decision Process: A Preliminary Study of the AIChE Concept Warehouse

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Grasping the "Concept"

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.561.1 - 23.561.16



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Paper Authors


Debra Gilbuena Oregon State University

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Debra Gilbuena is a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. She currently has research focused on student learning in virtual laboratories. Debra has an M.B.A., an M.S., and four years of industrial experience including a position in sensor development, an area in which she holds a patent. Her dissertation is focused on the characterization and analysis of feedback in engineering education. She also has interests in the diffusion of effective educational interventions and practices.

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Christina Smith Oregon State University


Bill Jay Brooks Oregon State University

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Bill Brooks is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. As an undergraduate he studied hardware engineering, software engineering, and chemical engineering. Brooks has been involved in the development of several educational software tools including the Virtual BioReactor, the Web-based Interactive Science and Engineering (WISE) Learning Tool, and the AIChE Concept Warehouse. His dissertation is focused on technology-mediated, active learning techniques and the mechanisms through which they impact student performance.

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Talia Sidne Finkelstein Oregon State University


Milo Koretsky Oregon State University

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Milo Koretsky is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. He currently has research activity in areas related to thin film materials processing and engineering education. He is interested in integrating technology into effective educational practices and in promoting the use of higher level cognitive skills in engineering problem solving. Koretsky is a six-time Intel Faculty Fellow and has won awards for his work in engineering education at the university and national levels.

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Examining the Innovation-Decision Process: A Preliminary Study of the AIChE Concept WarehouseTransportability is a widespread goal of education research. If an educational innovation iseffective in one environment, developers may want to share it with other instructors andinstitutions to have a larger impact and improve education more broadly. Additionally, fundingagencies like the National Science Foundation require a “broader impact” component in all grantproposals. One aspect commonly missing when an innovation is shared is a reflective, evidence-based description of the process as the educational innovation moves from the home institutionto other institutions with different faculty, different students and a different culture. In analogy tomolecular diffusion, E.M. Rogers put forth a theory, Diffusion of Innovations, that offers oneframework with which to examine this process. In this context, Rogers describes diffusion as“the process in which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time amongthe members of a social system.”We focus on one aspect of diffusion, the innovation-decision process which describes five stagesthe potential user goes through as they decide whether to adopt a new innovation: knowledge,persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation. We report on the first year investigationof the innovation decision-process of faculty who have considered adopting the AIChE ConceptWarehouse, a cyber-enabled site for facilitating conceptual learning in Chemical Engineeringwith large sets of concept-based clicker questions (or ConcepTests) and Concept Inventories forcore chemical engineering classes. Some faculty have become early adopters, while others haveprogressed through the first stage of the innovation-decision process, and decided at a later stagenot to adopt the innovation or to discontinue use. We ask the following research questions: Howdo early adopters use the AIChE Concept Warehouse? Why do they choose to implement it andcontinue use? At what stages do we lose faculty in the innovation-decision process and whatfactors influence their choices? How can we minimize negative factors?Participants in this preliminary investigation include 12 faculty members from a wide range ofages, teaching experience, institutions. These faculty fit in three adoption categories: four wereearly adopters that have continued use, four implemented the AIChE Concept Warehouse at leastonce but discontinued use, and four had knowledge of the tool but chose not to adopt it. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, transcribed and grouped according to the adoptioncategories. We asked faculty about their perceptions and use of the AIChE Concept Warehouse.Emergent coding was performed to identify themes in the interviews. In addition, we usedparticipants’ initial applications for the AIChE Concept Warehouse to provide a richerdescription of the participants and surveys completed after attendance of an introductoryworkshop for additional information about their innovation-decision path.This preliminary investigation has illustrated that faculty who never implement this tool perceivethat it takes more time than they can allot. For users that choose to try it, but discontinue use,there may be a need to collect more specific information in order to guide them through theinitial use. For example, potential adopters that are less proficient with technology may need amore scaffolded introduction and guidance through their first use than faculty who are moretechnologically proficient. In addition, aspects of the AIChE Concept Warehouse can bemodified to be more familiar to potential users, thereby mitigating potential issues.

Gilbuena, D., & Smith, C., & Brooks, B. J., & Finkelstein, T. S., & Koretsky, M. (2013, June), Examining the Innovation-Decision Process: A Preliminary Study of the AIChE Concept Warehouse Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19575

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