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Why We Failed: Barriers to Participation, Management, and Sustainability of an Immersive Faculty Experience Supporting Graduate Student Professional Development

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Graduate Studies Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count

22

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38061

Download Count

13

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Paper Authors

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Ella L. Ingram Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Ella L. Ingram is a Professor of Biology and Associate Dean for Professional Development. Her educational research interests include faculty development, promoting successful change practice of STEM faculty, effective evolution and ecology instruction, and facilitating undergraduate research experiences. Her teaching portfolio includes courses on: nutrition, introductory biology, ecology and environmental studies, evolution, evolutionary medicine, and research practices in science.

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Rachel McCord Ellestad University of Tennessee at Knoxville Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5163-7675

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Rachel McCord Ellestad is a a Senior Lecturer and Research Assistant Professor in the Engineering Fundamentals Division at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She received her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests include the impact of metacognitive and self-regulated learning development on engineering student success, particularly in the first year.

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Cory Hixson Colorado Christian University

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After earning my B.S. in Engineering Science at Penn State University (2007), I began working as an audio-video engineer/designer. I then made a career transition to teach high school physics. Having sparked my love for education, I went back to school to earn my M.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering (2015) and my Ph.D. in Engineering Education (2016). My first faculty job was at Rowan University in southern New Jersey, where I had the honor of helping develop their first-year engineering and B.S. in Engineering Entrepreneurship programs. I’m now blessed to be at CCU contributing to what God's doing through our Industrial and Systems Engineering program and university.

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Julia M. Williams Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Julia M. Williams is Professor of English at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Her research areas include technical communication, assessment, accreditation, and the development of change management strategies for faculty and staff. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Engineering Education, International Journal of Engineering Education, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, and Technical Communication Quarterly, among others.

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Abstract

Failure analysis is central to the work of engineers, and yet we neglect to analyze our failures in the field of engineering education. In this paper, we examine our failure in the development and deployment of an immersive faculty experience for graduate students in engineering education. Professional development is a significant focus of graduate studies. Professional development broadly defined includes any activities supporting the acquisition of skills, knowledge, and abilities relevant to one’s current or desired position. In the context of graduate studies, professional development often involves such activities as conference or workshop attendance, internships or job exploration, mentoring or coaching directed at students, and certification programs. Despite the importance of professional development in graduate school, anecdotal and research-based evidence supports the assertion that graduate students experience professional development unevenly. Whether this unevenness results from intrinsic or extrinsic factors is not established. We investigate the barriers to participation in professional development, with a focus on an immersive faculty internship; however, this work revealed barriers associated with professional development in general and related to specific other types of professional development. We focus on barriers specifically because engineers examine both successes and failures in the effort to improve product design, and because our product—an immersive faculty experience for graduate students—was designed to overcome barriers identified during customary discovery research. For this analysis of failure, we rely on interviews and survey data from varied stakeholders (e.g., graduate students, their mentors, graduate program directors, representatives from grant-giving organizations, and faculty on hiring committees) to identify these barriers. We also share our personal reflections on the challenges associated with this effort. From the data collected from members of the engineering education community, we found that barriers to participation include time spent away from support systems, potential delays in graduation, lack of understanding of the value of professional development, and funding for participating in these opportunities. Graduate students perceive (rightly or wrongly) that their advisors do not support an immersive, off-site professional development experience, perhaps because advisors want graduate students to continue the work important to advisors or the advisors do not consider the experience valuable for cultivating the students’ professional identities. In addition, organizational challenges include facilitating a multi-site experience from a single institution that is subject to both institutional and NSF rules for budgeting. Stakeholders in graduate education have a significant interest in removing barriers to professional development, including opportunities like immersive internships. By doing so, they increase graduate students’ satisfaction with the graduate school experience and improve graduate students’ placement and career success. We connect our failure to both the concept of root cause failure analysis and the literature in organizational change. By doing so, we highlight how failure is an under-appreciated experience in the field of engineering education.

Ingram, E. L., & Ellestad, R. M., & Hixson, C., & Williams, J. M. (2021, July), Why We Failed: Barriers to Participation, Management, and Sustainability of an Immersive Faculty Experience Supporting Graduate Student Professional Development Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38061

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