Engineering education research has emerged as a tool for making systemic and sustainable changes in the formation of engineers that are able to meet current and future national priorities and global challenges. However, the social infrastructure available to engineering education researchers is not yet robust enough to consistently support the development of diverse and deep collaborations sufficient to achieve true systemic change.
In this project, we consider three groups of researchers based on relative social infrastructure strength: those who are connected to a department of engineering education; those who are connected to a center or other non-department, formalized group on their campus; and those who have neither connection (“lone wolves”). Researchers on any given campus might have access to any combination of infrastructure types.
This project is directed toward identifying and amplifying social infrastructure elements that support the needs of lone wolves while sustaining the department- and center-based infrastructures. Lone wolf researchers often work in roles that are highly intertwined with the practice of engineering education; finding better ways to network and support strengthens the links between research and practice, facilitating systemic and lasting change.
Here we report results from our first year of the project, in which we collected representations of organizational infrastructure, such as faculty workload policies, from college and university web sites. These policies and procedures have been coded for traits related to an individual’s access to infrastructure and connectedness to engineering education research networks, with a view to that trait’s impact on strengthening engineering education research networks. These data are analyzed first to document the organizational landscape and to provide a framework for the analysis of future interviews, which will focus on problems of faculty reward structures and diversity in engineering.
This project advances knowledge through its view of faculty behavior as formed not only by personal motivation and institutional reward structures but also by current economic and policy frameworks in higher education. The results of this project will identify mechanisms to strengthen networks, modify communities' infrastructure, and develop leadership that supports both researchers and practitioners in engineering education.
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.