Beyond skills: building research capacity through cognitive apprenticeship and social capital

Karin J. Jensen, Isabel M. Miller, Deepthi E. Suresh, Julie P. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


International calls for building capacity in engineering education research (EER) as a discipline have led to the development of workshops, training programs, and resources for scholars to learn and practice EER. Building capacity in EER as a discipline depends not only on the research skills of scholars, but also their sustained engagement in the discipline through the development of strong social networks. Understanding how scholars develop robust social networks through mentorship will support building research capacity in the field. This study was designed to answer the research question: How do established engineering education researchers help new engineering education researchers build social capital for EER through mentoring relationships? It draws on semi-structured interviews leveraging critical incident technique conducted with nine participants: two mentors and seven mentees. The findings suggest that mentors serve critical roles in the professional development of engineering faculty (academics) in EER as a discipline, providing training in methods and theories, developing mentees’ social networks, and providing moral support for entering a new field. Building capacity efforts and related structured mentoring programs (and mentoring training) should emphasise the importance of developing mentees’ social networks to support sustained engagement in EER.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages13
JournalAustralasian Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Faculty development
  • critical incident interviews
  • mentoring
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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