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Understanding How a Culture of Collaboration Develops Among STEM Faculty

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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

Faculty Development II: Building Community Among STEM Educators

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Kelly J. Cross University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Cross completed her doctoral program in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech in 2015 and is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is involved with multiple educational research projects with faculty and graduate students at UIUC. Her research interests include diversity and inclusion, teamwork skills, assessment, and identity construction.

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Natasha Aniceto Mamaril University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Natasha Mamaril is currently the Coordinator of Undergraduate Research in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include assessment of motivation and how motivation affects student learning. Her education includes a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of the Philippines, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Educational Psychology from the University of Kentucky. She also has nine years of industry experience.

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Nicole Johnson-Glauch University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Nicole received her B.S. in Engineering Physics at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) in May 2013. She is currently working towards a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) under Professor Angus Rockett and Geoffrey Herman. Her research is a mixture between understanding defect behavior in solar cells and student learning in Materials Science. Outside of research she helps plan the Girls Learning About Materials (GLAM) summer camp for high school girls at UIUC.

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Geoffrey L. Herman University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Geoffrey L. Herman is a visiting assistant professor with the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a research assistant professor with the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. He earned his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a Mavis Future Faculty Fellow and conducted postdoctoral research with Ruth Streveler in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. His research interests include creating systems for sustainable improvement in engineering education, promoting intrinsic motivation in the classroom, conceptual change and development in engineering students, and change in faculty beliefs about teaching and learning. He serves as the webmaster for the ASEE Educational Research and Methods Division.

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Despite frequent calls for reform and a proliferation of research-based instructional strategies (RBIS), adoption of RBIS by engineering faculty remains low. As a result, understanding dissemination and implementation tactics of RBIS has emerged as a critical topic within engineering education research. Early work in understanding this topic has suggested that collaborative faculty environments that create common values and vision among faculty provide the most promising avenue for improving the dissemination and implementation of RBIS. While there has been research that studies teaming generally or even how faculty collaborate in their research, few studies have explicitly studied faculty collaborations and teaming practices to implement RBIS. In order to fill this gap, the research team has started a broad research agenda to understand how cultures of collaboration develop among engineering faculty engaged in implementing teaching innovation including RBIS’s. Therefore, the current study explores the research question, “how do engineering faculty describe their experience of participating in collaborative projects that promote and support the implementation of teaching innovation?”

This qualitative study employs an exploratory phenomenological approach, using semi-structured interviews with 12 engineering faculty across academic ranks. The participants worked on a variety collaborative team projects to implement teaching innovations at a Midwestern large research-intensive, predominantly white institution (PWI). The project durations ranged from one to three years for sustainable implementation of teaching innovations. The semi-structured interviews covered the participant’s previous teaching experience prior to joining the community of practice, a description of their current role in the community including what did and did not work well, and a description of their vision for the community in the future. Consistent with phenomenological research, the interviews were evaluated holistically to allow essential themes of the experience to emerge.

This paper describes the results of the phenomenological analysis to date which suggests two emergent themes related to engineering faculty re-categorizing their in-group identity of those engaged in the implementation of teaching innovation. Re-categorization is the redefining of in-group and out-groups where the boundaries separating the groups are replaced with a single, inclusive boundary. Specifically, engineering faculty engaged with applying RBIS’s were defined as a group with a clear boundaries of participation by the in-group and non-participation of the out-group. Two related themes emerged from engineering faculty redefining the boundaries between themselves and colleagues not involved in implementing teaching innovation or re-categorizing. First, several participants described how participating in the collaborative venture modified their teaching perspective or motivation to engage in implementing instructional innovation. For example, one participant said, “my views have firmed from the evidence of working with [project] about what we should be doing, what's important, and what's useful.” The closely related second emergent theme articulated by the participants was being recognized by peers and the expansion of their professional networks from participating in the program. Therefore, the identity shift and re-categorization support the process of developing a collaborative community of engineering faculty that are engaged in implementing instructional innovations.

Cross, K. J., & Mamaril, N. A., & Johnson-Glauch, N., & Herman, G. L. (2016, June), Understanding How a Culture of Collaboration Develops Among STEM Faculty Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27099

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