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Interleaving Lenses to Scale Our Units of Analysis for Engineering Education Improvement

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

EMD 2: Issues in Engineering Management Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

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Nicholas Jon Monacelli


Jennifer Karlin Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Jennifer Karlin spent the first half of her career at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where she was a professor of industrial engineering and held the Pietz professorship for entrepreneurship and economic development. She is now a professor of integrated engineering at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she is helping to build the Bell Engineering program, and the managing partner of Kaizen Academic.

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In a 2008 report to the National Academies, Fairweather pointed out that while we, as an engineering education community, have a broad understanding that we need to do root cause analysis and make change at a systemic level, the majority of our papers, presentations, and research projects have focused on improving individual classroom instruction. In the intervening years, this has largely not changed (funding opportunities like the RED sites from the National Science Foundation being a notable exception). Karlin et al (2016) responded by revising the research-to-practice cycle to explicitly include multiple levels of impact. While that study focused on the way changes in one level impact operations and behaviors in another, this paper takes that foundation in a different, yet correlative, direction: Each of these levels of impact are units of analysis scaled to different sizes and change needs to happen at all areas of the scale spectrum in order to have systemic, sustainable change.

This paper interleaves four lenses, all of which are from or connect to the engineering management body of knowledge, to develop a framework to aid individuals in choosing their change management path within and across unit of analysis sizes. The first lens is open systems theory, which is key to defining the unit of analysis at different organizational sizes. For example, open systems theory allows us to define a single classroom or an entire university as a unit of analysis while still have the same broad categories of context variables and change theory considerations. Second, user experience design, which is an interaction between software engineering and engineering management, provides the necessary outcomes required for students, faculty, and other participants to engage with presented ideas in a sustainable and effective environment. Third, narrative analysis allows the ability to capture the students complex relationship with their educational experience, identifying and capturing the current belief systems and areas of change that exist with a strong connection between the data and its interpretation (Kellam, 2015). Finally, complexity theory outlines the environment where all of these lenses are bound together, and the rules for how they ultimately interact (Gattie, 2011). Each of these, by providing their own individual strengths, have a profound effect on the continual improvement of engineering education. The paper describes the interactions between these four lenses that direct change implementation and suggest further ways the engineering management body of knowledge is a necessary component of building the future of engineering education.

Monacelli, N. J., & Karlin, J. (2020, June), Interleaving Lenses to Scale Our Units of Analysis for Engineering Education Improvement Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34865

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