Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
In this paper or poster presentation, we hope to present to and interact with our audience with respect to a key touchpoint in our national study of engineering education reform. Based on an NSF collaborative grant, our project team has conducted approximately 280 semi-structured interviews at over 40 different institutions with regards to change processes that operate within engineering education. Originally inspired by our earlier work on ABET, we framed our study around questions of governance, namely how national organizations and national conversations do and don’t shape changes in engineering education. However, our early interviews made it very clear that US engineering schools viewed themselves as participating in a competitive market, where local initiatives and innovations are as important if not more important to their student experience and institutional reputation. This said, market mechanisms and the way in which local innovations circulate (entrepreneurship, maker spaces, humanitarian engineering) are themselves a form of coordination, pointing to more subtle modes of governance that operate within engineering education. Drawing on the multi-theory framework of Austin and Jones’ for understanding Higher Education Governance (2015), we use this presentation to begin to tease apart the different modes through which change occurs within engineering education.
For the sake of argument, we pose the relationship in terms of a tension between governance and local innovation, while during the presentation of each, we point to their inevitable interdependence. With respect to governance, we focus on ABET and the different modes of compliance and engagement with ABET’s expectations for continuous improvement; differences in state systems of higher education, and the impact on public institutions; market mechanisms that are brought to play through national ranking systems and especially US News and World Reports; and the expanding role of industrial advisory committees following ABET EC 2000. With regards to local innovation, we focus on local cultures of innovation, especially at undergraduate institutions; the role of academic freedom in promoting innovation, but also limiting coordination; concerns about the cost of education and its varied responses; and institutional initiatives designed to address concerns about diversity and inclusion.
Our data sample includes public and private universities; research universities and undergraduate institutions (of different rank); general universities, engineering schools, liberal arts colleges, and two-year institutions; and both primarily white and minority (primarily Hispanic) serving institutions. By describing the diverse ways in which these various forces for change interact, we hope to reveal broad patterns that characterize the change processes that operate within the complex institutional ecology for engineering education in the United States. Especially if organized as a poster session, we will use this as an opportunity to interact with our audience to test our findings against the diverse experiences and institutional affiliations of those in attendance.
Akera, A., & Fatehiboroujeni, S., & Appelhans, S., & Cheville, A., & Karlin, J., & Riley, D. M., & De Pree, T. A., & Burgos-Mirabal, R. J. (2020, June), The Modalities of Governance in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35348
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