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The Role Of Chemical Engineering In Engineering Education Research

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Contemporary Issues in CHE Education

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1249.1 - 14.1249.10



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Paper Authors


Phillip Wankat Purdue University

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Phil Wankat received chemical engineering degrees from Purdue and Princeton Universities. He currently holds a joint appointment between the Schools of Chemical Engineering and Engineering Education at Purdue. He is interested in separation processes and in improving engineering education.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Role of Chemical Engineering in Engineering Education Research

Abstract Chemical engineers have historically played a very significant role in advancing engineering education; however, since research in engineering education has become much more rigorous in the last ten years, it is not obvious that chemical engineers will maintain this significant role. There are many specific questions within the five identified engineering education research areas (Epistemologies, Learning Mechanisms, Learning Systems, Diversity & Inclusiveness, and Assessment) that can be best explored by chemical engineering professors. To maintain a leadership role in engineering education research some chemical engineering departments will have to make engineering education a research specialty and offer Ph.D. degrees based on research in engineering education. This will require that a few motivated chemical engineering professors retool their research from a technical specialty to engineering education.

Introduction Despite being a relatively small engineering discipline and despite the conservatism of ChE departments, chemical engineers have been leaders in the push for engineering education reform and in engineering education research. Examples of chemical engineering leadership in pedagogy include the Chemical Engineering Division of ASEE Summer School that meets every five years, the Division’s publication of the journal Chemical Engineering Education, and leadership in teaching professors how-to-teach. Leadership in educational research has included the development of the guided design method, introducing Problem Based Learning into engineering, laboratory improvements and hands-on learning including distance operation of experiments, and the championing of cooperative group learning. One possible reason that chemical engineers have had influence greater than their numbers is, unlike most engineers, they are trained to think of processes, and teaching/learning are processes not products.

Research in engineering education has recently become much more rigorous and a new discipline of engineering education is developing. This paper will explore the roles of ChE professors and ChE departments for chemical engineering to retain its leadership role in engineering education research. What research questions should be explored? How can ChE professors who are not trained to do rigorous educational research develop their expertise so that they can successfully compete? Should ChE departments offer Ph.D. degrees for research in engineering education? What types of jobs will be available for graduates whose Ph.D. research is in engineering education? How should engineering education research be disseminated so that it is adopted as part of teaching practice?

Background: Engineering Education Research Significant changes are occurring in research in engineering education. Signs of these changes include the Journal of Engineering Education’s (JEE) changing publication requirements1-3, the development by NAE of the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE)4 which developed the engineering education research portal AREE for dissemination of engineering education research, the increased availability of funds for engineering education research from NSF but with a stricter review process, development of a national research agenda for engineering education5, the development of engineering education

Wankat, P. (2009, June), The Role Of Chemical Engineering In Engineering Education Research Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5030

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