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Phenomenography: A Qualitative Research Method to Inform and Improve the Traditional Aerospace Engineering Discipline

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Aerospace Engineering Education

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Antonette T. Cummings P.E. Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Antonette T. Cummings earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University. She earned her Bachelors and Masters in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She functioned as an aerodynamicist for military and civilian tiltrotors at Bell Helicopter for seven years, earning airplane and helicopter private pilot ratings. She has a Professional Engineer license in Texas in Thermal/Fluid Systems.

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William C. Oakes Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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William (Bill) Oakes is the Director of the EPICS Program and one of the founding faculty members of the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has held courtesy appointments in Mechanical, Environmental and Ecological Engineering as well as Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education. He is a registered professional engineer and on the NSPE board for Professional Engineers in Higher Education. He has been active in ASEE serving in the FPD, CIP and ERM. He is the past chair of the IN/IL section. He is a fellow of the Teaching Academy and listed in the Book of Great Teachers at Purdue University. He was the first engineering faculty member to receive the national Campus Compact Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning. He was a co-recipient of the National Academy of Engineering’s Bernard Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education and the recipient of the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Educational Excellence Award and the ASEE Chester Carlson Award. He is a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

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Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Carla B. Zoltowski, Ph.D., is Co-Director of the EPICS Program at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering and Ph.D. in engineering education, all from Purdue University. She has served as a lecturer in Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr. Zoltowski’s academic and research interests broadly include the professional formation of engineers and diversity and inclusion in engineering, with specific interests in human-centered design, engineering ethics, leadership, service-learning, assistive-technology, and accessibility.

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This overview paper demonstrates the valuable attributes of phenomenography for investigating the varied experiences of engineers employed in aerospace businesses. One attribute is called bracketing, where the researcher makes no hypothesis of how participants perceive the phenomenon such that a fuller description of each participant’s experience can be solicited. A second attribute is logical relationships among categories of experience, typically expressed as hierarchies, which imply a progression of learning and can easily be converted to a scale to create an assessment strategy in the classroom. A third attribute is the assumption of having a few categories of variation of experience, which is more readily accessible than highly nuanced taxonomies for education purposes. This theoretical framework is just one of several qualitative methods that can improve our understanding of the aerospace industry in order to improve classroom practices.

Cummings, A. T., & Oakes, W. C., & Zoltowski, C. B. (2016, June), Phenomenography: A Qualitative Research Method to Inform and Improve the Traditional Aerospace Engineering Discipline Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27333

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