As the field continues to grow, engineering education is continually challenged with finding engineering education research (EER) positions that align with the broad abilities and interests of its members. EER positions exist in engineering education departments, traditional engineering departments (e.g., mechanical, civil), and in non-degree granting programs (e.g., centers for teaching and learning, engineering programs). These positions vary across their emphasis on research, teaching, and service and provide access to different resources and mechanisms to impact engineering education. Given the range of positions available in EER and the emergence of new EER programs, it can be challenging for graduate students and postdocs to navigate the job search process and identify a position that aligns with their professional goals.
The purpose of this research was to better understand the EER job market as it relates to what applicants (i.e., graduates and post-docs) experience as they navigate the job-search and decision-making process. For this study, we conducted interviews with seven transitioning first-year EER faculty members. These individuals were transitioning into various EER faculty positions (e.g. Lecturer, Teaching Fellow, Assistant Professor, Research Assistant Professor) with different backgrounds in EER based on their graduate training experiences which included established EER programs as well as traditional engineering departments with EER advisor(s). We asked questions that focused on the individual’s new faculty position, their perception of the weekly time requirements, their job search process, and factors that influenced their final decision of which job to select. Each interview was conducted by two graduate students and was then transcribed and verified for accuracy. Three faculty members performed holistic coding of the transcripts focused on three areas: EER position types, job search process, and job decision making process. The Qualifying Qualitative research Quality framework (Q3) was used as a guide throughout our data collection and analysis process to ensure reliability and trustworthiness of the data collected.
Through our analysis process, we developed a visual representation that provides a guide to assist EER graduate students and postdocs with their job search process. The first figure captures the diversity of positions along with the types of institutions where these positions exist to provide a starting point for individuals on their job search process. The second figure includes a timeline to help capture the average time frames for different phases of the job search process. Factors associated with final decisions based on the interviews conducted are also outlined to provide areas of consideration for individuals undergoing this process in the future. This work provides insight to aspiring academics about the range of opportunities available to those with a background in EER and how they can pursue finding alignment between their interests and positions that are available.
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