Faculty Motivations and Barriers for Engineering Education Research

Mia Ko, Joseph Francis Mirabelli, Allyson Jo Barlow, Karin Jensen, Kelly J. Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The current project is a work in progresses of understanding faculty motivations and barriers oof entering engineering education research. Founded in the synergy of theoretical scholarship and practical application, engineering education research (EER) has recently emerged as a discipline to study how engineering classrooms can be modified towards benefitting students. As a new discipline, entrance into EER occurs through multiple avenues. While traditional graduate programs train some engineering education researchers using established models, others enter the field by transitioning their research interest. Little research has explored the motivation of faculty who transition their research focus towards EER. Thus, the current project uses expectancy value theory as a guiding framework to identify how motivations and barriers of entering EER influence faculty’s level of participation with EER. A few barriers concluded by our previous work include unfamiliarity with EER language and qualitative methods, and limited support from institutions. Because of these challenges, programs such as the Research Initiation in Engineering Formation (RIEF) funded by the National Science Foundation aim to train faculty in EER through peer mentorship. Four participants were selected based on their responses to a demographic survey in order to represent varying levels of experience and interest in EER. The first participant was a faculty member whose primary research is not EER, but was interested and had not already applied to a program such as the RIEF to begin their involvement. The second participant was a faculty member whose primary research was not EER, but had added EER to their research. A faculty member who had made a career switch from a non-engineering education discipline to EER was the third participant and the final participant was a faculty member whose primary research was not EER, was interested in engineering education scholarship, however, was not looking to participate in EER. These cases were analyzed comparatively with four in-depth qualitative interviews. Interviews were semi-structured and designed to explore faculty’s general motivations for academia and the relationship between their interests and understanding of EER. Initial questions discuss the relationship between faculty background and their level of familiarity with EER. These questions transition into further discussion about career goals and perceptions of EER: “What perceptions of EER do you have that restrict or benefit your career?” Transcribed interviews were coded and thematically analyzed to classify and relate motivations and barriers to active participation with EER. Analyzing these perceived values of EER, we explain why faculty are either motivated or not to engage with the research. By understanding the current project’s findings, we can better target prospective participants in programs like the RIEF, provide needed resources, and expand the EER community. Continuous and following work on the current project may create more awareness of the importance and benefits of participating with EER to more engineering faculty and, ultimately, positively impact the quality of education for students at large. Study design and preliminary data collection procedures are presented.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Faculty Motivations and Barriers for Engineering Education Research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this