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New NSF Grant to Study Impact of Engineering Education Research

Drs. Audeen Fentiman, Robin Adams, and Karl Smith recently received an NSF EAGER grant for the project, “Impact of the emerging engineering education research and innovation community.”

There is currently little understanding of how to assess and document the impact of discipline-based research on education practice. The goal of this project is to establish such a process and begin to document the impact of the engineering education research and innovation (EER&I) community. It specifically addresses two questions: 1) What is the local and broad impact of selected EER&I programs? 2) What are the best ways to characterize and document the impact of these EER&I programs? Over the last 20 years significant progress has been made in better understanding how to improve engineering education, much of which has been funded by NSF. However, incorporation of research results into practice has not kept pace with the research enterprise, largely because there is little understanding of how to measure that impact. This proposal aims to address this gap; doing so would lead to significant change in the practice of engineering education.

The specific goal of this project is to develop and test a process for documenting the impact of engineering education research. This process will be framed around the business canvas model from the NSF I-Corps for Learning program. The work will proceed through three primary activities: document the emerging network of EER&I faculty and identify examples of impact; conduct a summit for EER&I leaders and change experts to develop a process for documenting impact; and pilot the process at the three collaborating institutions. The process will then be tested at additional institutions, including those that do not have engineering education research activities. The results of the project will be summarized in a report and presented at the ASEE Annual Conference. By developing a process for documenting and assessing impact, research results can be more effectively transferred into practices to improve the professional formation of engineers.